Thursday, June 19, 2008


Are we ready? Is the community supportive? Can we meet the need for the military? I believe the answer is yes, but we must start now. The military families are counting on us and it is time to rise to the occasion. This is a great time to show our support.

Eglin growth panel meets

FORT WALTON BEACH — After a two-year wait, the Eglin Installation Growth Committee held its kickoff meeting Wednesday. Project Growth Coordinator Jeff Fanto said the twoyear delay was because the group needs Eglin Air Force Base’s Impact Assessment Report. “Eglin tells you where they’ll bed down and where groups will train,” said Fanto. “All of that is tentative.” The Eglin report is expected in September, but the installation committee had enough general information to anticipate the affect of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) on surrounding communities. According to reports from the committee, BRAC-related growth will bring 8,223 military members and 4,960 family members to the area. Fanto said another part of the delay was lining up the right team. He introduced HDR Engineering Vice President Bob Kellner. The Pensacola-based firm will spearhead the effort in Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties, but Fanto assured committee members at the meeting that the project will remain a local one. “This is our study,” he said. “This is a special opportunity for this region and we’ve got one shot to do this right,” said Kellner. HDR’s Joseph Ehardt will serve as project manager. He discussed issues related to the BRAC and sources of data for the assessment report. Rather than launching its own studies, consultants will compile data from other sources. “There’s a lot of data in the area,” Ehardt said. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.” Ehardt announced a tentative schedule that included meetings on alternatives analysis, public workshops and a final hearing in September 2009. The group will compile an impact assessment that will include roads and transportation, land use, housing, infrastructure, utilities, economy, health services, education and quality of life issues. The final assessment will be presented to Walton, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County commissions and city councils. “It’s very important for representatives from each of the cities to have members of the subcommittee,” said Fort Walton Beach Mayor Mike Anderson. “You have to be a part of it if you want to get your voices heard.” “This has been a long time coming but we’re finally beginning,” Fanto said. “We’re very anxious to start.” Some subcommittees have been meeting for the last 18 months, but have room for new members. Fanto encouraged people interested in the growth project to contact him at 609-3014 or at Daily News Staff Writer Mona Moore can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1443.


It has become obvious from local reports and interest by commercial operators that Crestview is a place to be. With interest to have a large and small shopping centers on the south and north side of Crestview, respectively; Crestview will be ready to attract more folks from the south end of the county and around the Country to take advantage of the quality of life and affordability of homes in this area.

'Nation's largest retail and ranch store' coming to Crestview
Kyle Wright, Florida Freedom Newspapers
June 19, 2008 - 9:00AM
CRESTVIEW -- Tractor Supply Company has confirmed it plans to occupy 28,000 feet of retail space in the former Winn Dixie store on U.S. Highway 90 in Crestview.
TSC spokesperson Susan Morgenstern confirmed the company's plans to open a store in Crestview, so long as necessary permits and approvals are obtained.
"Florida and Alabama are great states for tractor supply," Morgenstern said. "We know there are a lot of customers in Florida and Alabama, and we are happy to be moving into Crestview."
TSC bills itself as "the largest retail farm and ranch store chain in the United States." The company is based in Brentwood, Tenn., and operates more than 750 retail stores in 43 states.
Ronnie Watts, owner of the former Winn Dixie building, said the store likely will open in the fall and employ between 50 and 75 people.
"They like the location," Watts said. "They looked all over Crestview and zeroed on this, and they think it's the best location of anywhere around."

Sunday, June 15, 2008


A major step in the further growth of Crestview. My hats off to all the local officials in making this happen. This continues to add the attractiveness of Crestview and the I-10 Corridor for further growth opportunities. Stay tuned. I here the folks in Mobile are needing some help in our area in meeting the needs of the air refueling contract.

FAMU pharmacy school gets shot in the arm
Crestview Mayor David Cadle says Alatex building is possible site
By BRIAN HUGHES Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW — An appropriation for a Florida A&M University pharmacy, physical therapy and nursing school in Crestview made it into the final budget signed by Gov. Charlie Crist this week. The project had been called a “budget turkey” by Florida TaxWatch, a label that angered state Sen. Durell Peaden. “It’s a big project that will mean jobs, higher education in the area and a complement to the great educational opportunities already in the county,” said Peaden, R-Crestview. It will be the third pharmacy school in the state. Peaden drafted the funding appropriation for “rural diversity health care.” It passed both houses of the Legislature. Crestview Mayor David Cadle said no firm site for the facility has been determined. The old Alatex building across from City Hall is a possibility. “While we are pleased that FAMU is interested in Crestview, we have received no concrete proposals for the use of any city-owned building at this time,” Cadle said. He said the City Council will make the final decision on the school’s location. “It’s very exciting,” he said. “I think the economic impact will benefit the city for many years to come.” Peaden said he plans to make a presentation to the City Council “in the near future” to develop plans for the facility. “It will be a luxury having a place in rural Florida to offer that level of education without having to travel to big cities like Miami or Jacksonville or Tampa,” he said.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Just another shining example why many people are making Northwest Florida their new home. As we all know, schools are always on the minds of the parents when making decisions and with our area schools being some of the best; it is no wonder why they not only come here, but they stay here. Stay Tuned. I have heard there are some more great news coming from the Economic Development Council on our area growth.

Regional schools shine in FCAT

Northwest Florida school districts continue to make steady strides on the FCAT. Okaloosa County and Santa Rosa County remained two of the highest performing school districts in the state. Walton County continues to score above the state average in most categories. The State Department of Education released the 2008 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results Tuesday for reading and math for fourth through 10th grades. Third-grade results were released last month. Test results for science were released for the fifth, eighth and 11th grades. Parents can access their children’s scores Thursday via the FCAT Parent Network. Okaloosa students showed an increase in reading proficiency from 72 to 74 percent. They improved from 70 to 80 percent in math. In reading, ninth-graders made considerable gains, increasing from 57 to 64 percent of students at or above grade-level. Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts said this year’s results were “awesome.” “We are very, very proud of them,” she said. Tibbetts added that the district has been working hard to close the achievement gap for poor and minority students. She said elementary schools are starting to level off throughout the state. Despite the plateau, “we’re still doing great,” Tibbetts said. “But we can never become complacent.” Walton County met or exceeded state proficiency averages in every category except sixth-grade math. Overall, students increased from a 65 to 71 percent in math proficiency and from 63 to 65 percent in reading. Walton County Superintendent of Schools Carlene Anderson said the district will continue to work on weak areas. “In looking at test scores historically, I’m proud to see that we are continually improving and not digressing. Obviously, what we’re doing is working,” Anderson said. Walton High School Education Coordinator David Jeselnik said is high school science is an area of concern. Juniors scored 37 percent, 1 percent lower that the state average. Santa Rosa continued to remain a high-performing district. Overall, students improved from 71 to 73 percent proficiency in reading, while they increased 3 points in math to 78 percent. Santa Rosa Assistant Superintendent of Schools Tim Wrosdyck said there weren’t any scores that particularly jumped out. “We were pleased with the continued advancement of scores,” he said. He said some schools begin to level off because it is difficult to make huge strides after reaching the 80 or 90 percentile. School districts are already looking ahead to next year. Jeselnik said limited funding from the state will affect program implementation next year. “The drop in funding is going to be an issue for us,” he said. “But we’ll do the best we can with it.”

Monday, June 9, 2008


Did you know Crestview had an airport? Did you know, it is one of the most unique airports in the State of Florida and around the south? With the upcoming BRAC at Eglin, this airport has taken on some new roles. The Okaloosa County Commissioners have also taken a number of initiatives to make sure this Bob Sikes Industrial Airpark is ready to take on the new roles needed in the upcoming growth expected in this area by both BRAC and other companies seeking this type of Airpark with the benefits of being a Florida State Enterprise Zone.

Okaloosa County Industrial Airpark
The biggest and best aviation cluster in the region! Former Governor Bush proclaimed the Okaloosa-Crestview Industrial Airpark as "one of the best examples of a true aviation, aerospace and defense cluster development in the State of Florida."

Location: 360 acres in the northern section of Okaloosa Coutny, three miles northeast of Crestview, near Interstate 10.

Site Size Available: As needed. There are primes sites and large parcels available for development within the airport boundaries.

Environment: Cleared area of 290 acres with an elevation range from 160-240 feet. Bob Sikes Airport offers a 8,000 foot runway, with a 2,000 foot planned expansion. The airpark offers complete airport facilities capable of handling large airliners; taxiways to and from surrounding properties; and adjacent land for aviation related companies.

Access: Proximity to Interstate 10, U.S. Highway 90, State Highway 85, and State Road 188.
*Bob Sikes Airport and access to Okaloosa Regional Airport
*Access to Port of Pensacola and Port of Panama City, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
*CSX Railroad
*All common carriers

SPECIAL NOTES: The Bob Sikes Airport offers a 8,000 foot runway with ILS. It is primarily utilized for industrial application with general aviation facilities. A 64,000 square foot hanger is on location for aircraft modifications and assembly along with taxiways. This airport is also located within an Enterprise Zone. Full service FBO/on site ARFF - emergency services. This airpark offers the ideal environment for aerospace industry and component manufacturing.

*Gulf Power Company
*Natural Gas
*Okaloosa County Gas District; gas line on site
*Okaloosa County Water & Sewer
*Okaloosa County 6" line on site

Owner: Okaloosa County

Current Tenants:
L-3 Crestview Aerospace Corporation, B&H Earthmoving, Copy Products Company, Custom Production Inc., EJM Aerospace Services Inc., Gulf Coast Industrial Machine, Ideal Aviation Inc., MTC/MTI, MTI/AIC, Prime Source Electrical & Manufacturing, Summit Park, Sunshine Aero Industries Inc., and Tepper Aviation Inc.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Eglin Air Force Base Targeted for New AAFES Lifestyle Center

Lookout Destin Commons. The Eglin Air Force is in the working stages of putting together a Enhance Use Lease for a Town Center for the military families, both retired and active duty, in our local area. Excitement was in the air, after having had the opportunity to attend a Breakfast Briefing this morning with General Hendrix, the person responsible for this project and a past Base Commander of Eglin. This, along the the Military Resort being planned on Okaloosa Island, make this a even better place to retire for military members. Note: We already have approximately 40,000 retired military in the area now.

It is Official - Okaloosa Walton Community College is Growing

This is a great move by the local area and will be a great plus for the area. With this addition in Niceville and the expansion in Crestview, Okaloosa County will be a great attraction for hire education. Stay tuned. There is more to come.

Crist to sign bill at OWC
State college legislation gives schools more leeway to develop bachelor’s programs

NICEVILLE — Okaloosa-Walton College is one step closer to becoming a state college. Following an invitation from state Rep. Ray Sansom, Gov. Charlie Crist is scheduled to sign the State College Bill on June 12 at the Mattie Kelley Fine Arts Center in Niceville. The new legislation will make OWC part of the new Florida College System, which comprises post-secondary schools that provide career education and associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. “We’re really excited that the governor would come over and sign such an important bill,” Sansom said. “It’s a major step forward for our state.” As the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in Florida falls, community colleges have been adding bachelor’s programs to address local shortages, such as in nursing and teaching. Schools deemed state colleges will have more leeway to develop additional bachelor’s degree programs. State colleges are unique in the variety of programs that they can offer at a reduced cost, Sansom said. In the university system, it costs about $6,000 per student per year versus $3,600 at a community college. The public is welcome to attend the signing at 10:30 a.m. OWC officials ask that people arrive by about 10:15 a.m. OWC President Dr. Bob Richburg said the school‘s district board of trustees will begin discussing a new name for the college at its meeting Tuesday. He expects to adopt a name by September. “It’s a wonderful testament to both the college and the local legislative delegation,” Richburg said. “We’re just excited to host this statewide event on our college campus and look forward to the transition to a state college.” Daily News Staff Writer Rachel Kyler can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1440.