Friday, April 30, 2010


Let's not forget, it is not only the Army's 7th Special Forces Group coming to town because of BRAC; it is also the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Training Squadron and all the supporting cast that comes with them. Oh, by the way, if you don't think their will be some Defense Contracting growth along with this group, you will be mistaken. Remember folks, with military technology, come commercial application. Read on -

F-35 Lightning II News
Joint F-35 513th EWS stands up
April 29, 2010 (by Ashley M. Wright) - The squadron serving as the sole Department of Defence provider of electronic warfare support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter activated April 23 in a ceremony at Eglin AFB.

Col. Kevin McElroy, 53rd EWG commander, and new commander of the 513th EWS, Lt. Col. Tim Welde, unfurl the squadron flag at the activation ceremony on April 23, 2010 at Eglin AFB Surrounded by artifacts from the history of airpower in the Air Armament Museum, the 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron stood up as a first step toward preparing Airmen, Sailors and Marines with the latest electronic warfare data for all three variants on the 5th generation aircraft."We are not supporting only one variant of the F-35, we are supporting all," said Col. Kevin J. McElroy, 53rd Electronic Warfare Group commander. "One team, one fight, one guidon."The squadron, currently manned by 32 technicians and engineers, will grow to 130 personnel at full strength. The squadron will operate the $300 million United States Reprogramming Laboratory, which tests all aspects of the Joint Strike Fighter's electronic warfare capability. Fifty percent of the total personnel will be Airmen, while the other half will consist of Navy and Marine personnel."Without mission data, the F-35 is a very pretty, and some would say very loud, aircraft," Lt. Col. Tim Welde, 513th EWS commander said. "With mission data, the F-35 is pure lethality."Electronic warfare is "any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy," according to Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5.1. Mission data is the descriptions the aircraft needs to identify both enemies and allies on the battlefield.The laboratory is still under construction with a projected completion date of summer 2010 and hardware will arrive a year from now, the colonel said. Until that time, the squadron is performing a plethora of tasks as they become the "one-stop organic shop" for F-35 data."Our engineers are currently developing threat models and 5th generation mission data for the F-35," Colonel Welde said. "Our technicians are undergoing maintenance training as well as prepping the lab with power supplies, network connectivity and data storage devices. Next year, when the F-35 hardware is integrated and the lab is fully operational, the squadron will be able to successfully develop, test and deliver the critical mission data for JSF warfighters."The 513th EWS possess a history stretching back to World War II as a bombardment group flying B-17s. The unit practiced primarily electronic countermeasures with B-29 aircraft from 1952 until conversion to jet aircraft in 1954. Until 1965, the squadron flew a long series of simulated combat bombardment missions to maintain readiness as a Strategic Air Command unit, testing electronic warfare devices and radar techniques using B-47 and EB-47 aircraft.The F-35 offers a stark contrast to previous generations of aircraft."Classic EW reprogramming was focused on defensive systems, but with the F-35, mission data is required for the offensive capabilities to operate at a new level of execution," Colonel McElroy said. "The mission data does all the hard thinking, and the pilot can then process a variety of more info, making him more lethal."Colonel Welde will lead the squadron for about 18 months, then Navy officer will rotate in as commander to fulfill the joint structure common throughout the unit.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The Panama City International Airport ground opening is next month and is already showing a lot of promise and attention to our community. It is still amazing when you speak to some business leaders and visitors and they still have doubt that the Panama City International Airport is opening next month. I say folks, take a drive and visit the Airport. It is here and almost ready to open. The question will be, who is going to be ahead of the curve and take advantage of this growth. This is no pipe dream. Our Emerald Coast is a treasure for the world, but some just don't get it. Maybe they should leave this country and you will understand why. With all of the troubles our country might have, it is still the GREAT PLACE ON EARTH. If you don't believe me, ask some of the workers around here from other country doing all of the service work. Once they get here, they appreciate what we have and don't want to leave.

Piloting Growth in NW Fla.By Charlotte Crane - 5/1/2010

Set to open late this month, the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is already showing promise as the economic catalyst that business leaders want for the region.

Janet Watermeier, executive director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, says one company, Coast WET of California, has already moved its headquarters to the area; two others are considering airport locations. "We're out in the market now talking to real estate and corporate executives," says Kevin Johnson, St. Joe vice president for economic development.
St. Joe itself is moving its headquarters to a site adjacent to the airport, relocating from its 75-year home in Jacksonville. The new headquarters, scheduled for completion by summer 2011, will also consolidate offices from Tallahassee, Port St. Joe and south Walton County.

Business leaders predict the airport eventually will form the nucleus of an entire new central business district. The facility also will help capture tourists from far outside the southeast market and lead to a surge in industrial development, they say. "It will be an airport city," says airport director Randy Curtis.

The airport, Florida's newest, encompasses 1,300 acres and a 130,000-sq.-ft. terminal, both twice the dimensions of the airport it replaces, and with room to grow. Service will include first-time daily non-stop flights to Houston, Nashville, Baltimore and Orlando by prized new connector Southwest Airlines.

"This will allow us to reach audiences that can come and experience Panama City Beach for the first time," says Bay County Tourist Development Council executive director Dan Rowe. Bay County and the Beaches of South Walton Tourist Development Council together have pledged more than $3 million per year from a fifth penny on bed taxes for use in joint marketing with low-fare airlines, 90% dedicated to Southwest.

The airport's West Bay site is part of 75,000 untapped acres owned by St. Joe Co., of which 40,000 acres are designated for preservation and more than 33,000 programmed for development; 1,000 acres are targeted to be occupant-ready within two years. Runway proximity gives the site appeal for aerospace, transportation and logistics industries. Altogether, says Johnson, "I don't think there's another asset in our region remotely close to what we have."

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Okay folks, I thought I would review the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service and see how the new sales in Crestview are doing as of this date. I was quite surprised by the numbers, since most of our transfers will be happening when kids get out of schools and the annual move of military begin to move into our area after receiving their orders. Also with the 7th Special Forces Group being move into our area and their leaders authorizing most of them to move now, I believe it will be interesting. As a former Military Housing Director , I had a lot of experience with all of the services and I can tell you, the Army's 7th Special Forces Group is unique. First, they are not transferring here for just a few years, they are here until they retire. I can expect, they will be looking for their Dream Home. Second, their leadership says they are accustom and desire to live upto an hour away from their duty station. Third, they will be some of the highest paid residents in our area and will be living large, this does not include the spouse's income. There are many other factors they bring to the housing market. Basically, they don't have the same housing needs as the Air Force, and this must be learned when meeting their housing needs. Below are some latest housing numbers for new homes in the Crestview market:

New Housing Sales Pending: 44 - Average Price: $201,000
New Housing Sold since January 1, 2010: 54 - Average Price: $202,000

Saturday, April 24, 2010


As reported by the Air Force, the partners of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, had visited the new Training Facility for the training of the F-35 pilot program. This is just the first one of about a dozen countries who will be training their pilots at this facility. I have recently been noting the growth of the Army's 7th Special Forces Group to our area. Well guess what, that is just the beginning. I hope you can see not only will we see a lot of new Army personnel in our area; we will be seeing and listening to a lot of new foreign pilots and their maintenance crews walking our streets. Don't think it will stop there. I am pretty confident, you will be seeing a lot of foreign dignitaries making our area home, as well as, news going back to their fellow countryman about our area. Remember that is approximately 12 countries getting ready to hear about the Panhandle of Florida. I think we might want to get "Foreign Languages for Dummies" in order to sell to this wide open demographic. Just a thought!!!!

Italian navy, air force officials visit F-35 training wing
by Ashley M. WrightTeam Eglin Public Affairs4/23/2010 -
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Representatives from the Italian air force and navy visited the 33rd Fighter Wing recently in an effort to check the progress of the first F-35 integrated training center and learn more about this new coalition venture. "Things are moving, and this program is becoming real," said Rear Admiral Paolo Treu, director of Naval Aviation Department and commander of the Italian Fleet Air Arm. "I'm grateful to Eglin for giving us this opportunity. A lot of work has been done. A lot of work has to be done."Italy is one of several partner nations that will be training Joint Strike Fighter pilots and maintainers at the 33rd FW. "We are honored to host representatives from the Italian navy and air force," said Col. David Hlatky, 33rd FW commander. "We are all on the same JSF team, and it's our privilege to share how the Integrated Training Center is progressing. A lot of good things are coming together in the 33d Fighter Wing and the JSF program." Admiral Treu said the timing of the visit serves two main purposes."[The visit] was a good opportunity to see a lot of the requirements for the Joint Strike Fighter," he said. "The other reason is that we will be a part of the integrated training center."The admiral added that the Italian military will send two F-35s to work in the center in 2014 and the country will receive its first 5th generation fighter in 2015. The F-35 program is important to the Italian navy efforts to "maintain the capability of power projection from the sea to the ground.""For the Italian Navy, it is a crucial program because there is no replacement for the Harrier. In order to be useful in the international contest, you need to have the JSF," he said. "If you have the carrier, but you don't have the JSF, you could not be able, in the future, to be part of the initial strikes on enemy territory."The admiral and Brig. Gen. Roberto Nordio, Italian Air Force Logistic Department chief, both expressed the importance of training with international partners. "The relationship with the international partners is very important," Admiral Treu said. "This melting pot of different cultures is very important because everybody has a different way of looking at business. It [puts] together the best practices of all the different countries in synergistic way to increase our potential."The training relationship between the United States and Italy stands on a solid foundation, General Nordio said."Starting from 1979, we [have] regularly sent pilots to Air Force facilities," the general said. "Our relationship is quiet strong, and we really believe it is quiet effective. The F-35 is a revolution in [the] air combat environment, [and] it will make our services more interoperable with other nations, especially the United States." The Italian air force plans to train around 180 pilots coming and about 1,800 maintainers from now until through 2026, he said. The service wishes to send the first pilots and maintainers around 2013.During their visit, the group received a 33rd FW mission brief and a tour of the construction site where students will study and train on the F-35.

Friday, April 23, 2010


If the nation is having this kind affect on the new homes sales, can you imagine what is happening in our area with the reduction of available of military housing this year and the movement of newly assigned personnel coming to our area. If you have any other questions or comments, give me a call.

WASHINGTON (AP) – April 23, 2010 – Sales of new U.S. homes surged 27 percent last month, bouncing off the previous month's record low and blowing past expectations as better weather and government incentives boosted sales.
The Commerce Department said Friday that new home sales rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 411,000. It was the strongest month since last July and the biggest monthly increase in 47 years.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a sales pace of 330,000. February's results were revised upward to 324,000 but remained an all-time low. Sales had been especially weak over the winter, partly due to bad weather in much of the country.

The median sales price was $214,000, up more than 4 percent from a year earlier but down more than 3 percent from February.

The new home sales report reflects signed contracts to purchase homes rather than completed sales and thus gives economists a feel for how many buyers were out shopping for new homes in a given month.

It is likely capturing consumers who are trying to qualify for federal tax credits that will expire at the end of this month. The government is offering an $8,000 credit for first-time buyers and $6,500 for current homeowners who buy and move into another property.

To qualify, buyers must have a signed contract complete by the end of next week and must complete the transaction by the end of June. Nearly 1.8 million households have used the credit at a cost of $12.6 billion, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The rise in new home sales was seen nationwide. Sales grew a whopping 44 percent in the South and 36 percent in the Northeast. They also rose about 6 percent in the West and 3 percent in the Midwest.

The number of new homes up for sale in March fell 2 percent to 228,000. At the current sales pace, it would take nearly 7 months to exhaust that supply.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Walmart and Niceville, who would have thought that day would come. As you will read on, this has been something in the works for many years. There is also a story why it took so long. But another day for that. Basically, with all of the economic growth coming to our area, it was in the cards. If you think this is big news, stay tuned, more will follow. MORE PEOPLE MORE PEOPLE MORE PEOPLE.

Walmart gets final permit
The 154,000-square-foot Supercenter could open by the end of the year
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448  
NICEVILLE — The city’s staff signed off on the building permit for the Walmart Supercenter late Tuesday morning. Construction is expected to start next month.
Negotiations to bring Walmart to Niceville have been going on for almost a decade. Niceville’s staff has worked on the store’s planning and development for about four years.
The roughly 154,000-square-foot Supercenter tentatively is expected to open by the end of the year.
“They’re going to start construction within the next three to four weeks,” said Niceville building official Don Baccadutre. “The site’s already ready for them, so that’s one big advantage. The site’s been prepared, and it’s been approved, so all they have to do is start digging the footings.

“It’s not like they’re starting to knock down trees. That’s already been done,” Baccadutre added. “The infrastructure is all in the ground, the water and sewer. All they have to do is start the actual building.”
In addition to getting a construction p e r m i t , Wa l m a r t recently paid $34,390 in permitting fees for the new building. An additional $29,150 will be due when construction is complete.
Walmart representatives say the store will blend in with the community.

“It has one of the latest store designs,” said Daniel Morales, communications director for Walmart. “Each of these store designs is meant to complement the community around it.”
Morales said the new Walmart likely will employ 200 to 250 people when it opens. No date was available Tuesday for when the store will start hiring, but Morales said anyone interested should regularly check   for updates.

The entrance to the new Walmart is being built close to the Century 21 office on John Sims Parkway. While Walmart will be the first store to go in, a shopping center nearby is in the planning stages.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Baccadutre said. “After you see Walmart, I think you’ll start to see other things come in.”
Walmart will dramatically change the landscape of Niceville. Small changes already can be seen.

Earlier this month, the main building of the Niceville Garden Center was moved about one block to the west. After 21 years in the same location, the rest of the business will move to the new site in the next two months, said Tammy Winchenbach, who owns the business with her husband, Dan.

Winchenbach said she did not think the Walmart Supercenter, which has its own garden center, will hurt her business. She expects her store’s loyal customers to follow it to its new location.
Although Winchenbach said she didn’t think Niceville necessarily needed a Walmart, she is looking forward to the convenience of having one so close.
“I don’t have any problem going into Fort Walton Beach or Destin, but I’m sure I will pop in (to the new Niceville store),” Winchenbach said.

Not everyone is looking forward to it. Marguerite Hartt said one of the reasons her family moved to Niceville was because it was a small community without the big-box retailer.

“I really don’t want Walmart here at all,” Hartt said. “I don’t like that they come in and take over little towns. I don’t shop there.”


The time has come and the excitement in the air is growing. With the OFFICIAL movement of some of the 7th Special Forces to the area happening NOW, and some of the others deciding to move earlier to take advantage of the low prices; it will be an quite interesting to see how we can accomodate these folks. The word is out and some of the national, regional, and local builder's are looking for quality home sites to begin building. As the Vice President of the Northwest Florida Military Officer's Association, I get to here some interesting news. As I said before, the military transfer season is upon us NOW and with the demand of the normal military transfers this summer, new military units being assigned to our area, and the major reduction in military housing units on Eglin; this year and next few years to come will be exciting. If you don't think it's HOT, ask some of the realtors, who are making thousands of dollars on new home sales.

Special Forces Relocate to Eglin 04/20/10
By: Allyson Walker Walton County, Fla, WMBB - Channel 13 Panama City

Walton County could have its very own mini stimulus rolling into the area this summer. The county is getting ready for a Special Forces unit to relocate to Eglin Air Force Base from Fort Bragg. Those in Walton and Okaloosa counties say the stampede of military families will make a huge impact on the area. A brand new banner means preparations for a trip to Fort Bragg, North Carolina are well underway. And it’s all because a whole unit of Army Special Forces will be relocating to Eglin this summer, according to Kim Kirby, the DeFuniak Springs City Manager “…Lieutenant Colonel Bloomberg with the 7th Special Forces, provided invitations to the area cities and counties’ chambers of commerce to attend a forum in Fort Bragg on May 11th and 12th to provide information about our communities to the 7th Special Forces groups and their families.

It’s all a part of a joint effort by Walton and Okaloosa County to court and coax families to move into their communities. The influx of people means an economic boost. Kirby points out that “…it could mean our businesses have customers that are buying books, buying groceries, buying gas, our downtown, paying taxes…”

And for a county under serious budget strain, more business could help. Mary Lou Reed with the Walton and Okaloosa Workforce Development Board agrees “…we’ve sometimes referred to it as our own little stimulus plan.”

Special Forces families can live anywhere, and that means they will likely be moving into subdivisions like Blackstone in Mossy Head. Blackstone and Mossy Head School were both constructed after Walton County found out about the group’s relocation back in 2005. Reed says this is a rather unique group of soldiers “…the military members are away a great deal of the time, so where they live and for the family to feel real comfortable in that community is really important to them.”

70% of the group is expected to live in Okaloosa, but the lobbying for the other 30% continues.
Blackstone in mossy head is just one of the areas Special Forces’ families might could move. Right now we don’t know definite numbers, and we won’t know until June.

There is a website set up by the Workforce Development Board to assist families of the 7th Special Forces Group. The board is asking local Walton and Okaloosa County residents to check it and make sure the communities are well-represented. That link is below:

Monday, April 19, 2010


This is going to be the biggest thing to hit Crestview in a long time. This is part of a huge commercial shopping center on the Northside of Crestview, just a few blocks from the High School. It is already attracting a number of businesses to the shopping center and I expect the folks of Crestview will save on a lot of gas, not having to travel to Destin to see a quality movie or some of shopping choices.

New movie theater could open Memorial Day weekend
Marquis 10 Cinema is accepting job applications this week
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — Owners of the Marquis 10 Cinema have announced through its Facebook page that employment applications will be accepted today through Friday. That’s good news for potential employees. The question others want answered is, when will it open? Crestview developer Jack Jernigan, a local partner with theater owner Nels Offerdahl, said winter rains have pushed the opening beyond the original mid-April target. Jernigan now hopes for an opening by Memorial Day weekend. “They would like to be open in the weeks of the opening of ‘Ironman,’ the expected early summer blockbuster,” Jernigan said. “They’ll be close. They are working overtime to have it opened at the end of May.” The Marquis’ Facebook page states applications will be accepted at the construction trailer on the site from 2 to 6 p.m. each day this week. Applications can be downloaded from  . Offerdahl, who also owns theaters in Gulf Breeze and Pace, said the cinema expects to employ 40 to 45 people during the peak summer film season. “Most of those are usually high school or college kids,” Offerdahl said. “We’re very seasonal. We’re opening this thing stepping right into the season.”
Offerdahl said when business slows in the fall, employment will drop to about 30 workers. That will pick up slightly during the Christmas season before falling again in winter and early spring.
Marquis 10 will show p r i m a r i l y f i r s t - r u n features, Offerdahl said, with the possibility of older or indie films shown during slower times, particularly if a film has generated a lot of pre-Academy Award or Golden Globe buzz.
Wi t h t h r e e l a r g e auditoriums, plus medium and small screens, the theater will seat 1,750 people, Jernigan said. There also will be an arcade and a private birthday party room.
Offerdahl also promised a state-of-the-art cinema-going experience.
“We’ll be digital and 3-D -capable on three screens,” he said.
Paving for the cinema and the adjacent Twin Creeks Shopping Center has just begun.
Construction on the retail center should begin in June, Jernigan said.
“We have a lot of stuff going in,” Jernigan said. “It’s all going to turn out great. It’s going to be a great place for people to come and hang.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Military Appreciation and Celebration Recognition Day - May 15, 2010

Crestview Florida is hosting the 3rd Annual Military Appreciation and Recognition Celebration (MARC) on May 15, 2010 at the Spanish Trail Fairgrounds. This year's MARC is beginning to be one of the largest local Military Appreciation Celebration in the area. This year's theme is the welcoming of the Army's 7th Special Forces Group to the area. The festivities will be opened with the 7th Special Forces Group Parachute Demonstation Team jumping and landing at the Fairground for the opening ceremony. The Coast Guard is planning a Fly-By and hoover over the fairgrounds, as well. The 7th Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg is busing a number of families from Fort Bragg for the event to accept the City's hospitality. The fairgrounds will have a number of events and entertainment throughout the day, free lunch to Veterans, and a variety of sponsors giving thanks to Veterans. If you want to see the impact the growth of the military is having on our area, you need to put this date on your calendar.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The following is a excerpt from a Travel Magazine of South Florida highlighting our area. This has been one of many, who have reported on our area to the country. In today's world, folks are exploring our own borders for a number of reasons. One being cost and secondly, security. Also, we have seen a number of baby boomers, who have visited us for years, finally saying to themselves, "I tired of shovelling snow and ready to move south for not just the winter, but permanently." Of course, I have grew up here and retired as a military officer, and can see we make a lot of folks happy when they get here. MORAL TO THE STORY: We are no longer a secret and folks around the country and world are going to find us.

New Panama City airport could stir Gulf Coast's sleepy way of life
BY ELEANOR BERMANTravel Arts Syndicate

Staircases provide access while protecting the dunes at Rosemary Beach.
They call it the Emerald Coast for the blue-green water, but the color I remember best about the beaches of South Walton is white: wide expanses of sand so white it glistens in the sun. Few beaches in Florida or anywhere can match this 26-mile shoreline in Walton County, bordering the Gulf of Mexico in Florida's northwest Panhandle. The sand is nearly pure quartz crystal, dazzling to the eye and soft underfoot.

This beach lover's paradise has been a semi-secret, known mostly to visitors from Atlanta, Birmingham, Tallahassee and other areas within driving distance. But that may change this spring when an international airport opens in Panama City, a half-hour away.
Beaches are not the only thing special about South Walton. More than 40 percent of the region is preserved as state parks and forests, meaning highways are lined with tall trees instead of strip malls, and the recreational possibilities, from kayaks to fishing to nature trails, are endless.
A string of 15 small, low-rise, low-key villages border the sea running along Scenic Route 30A, where a bike lane stretches the entire 19 miles of the highway. Each town has its own charming cottage architecture and locally-owned boutiques and restaurants. Vacationers can settle into a cottage or condo and walk to beach, shops, dining, tennis, outdoor concerts and other recreation. While there are plenty of luxury options, many rates are lower than better-known resort areas.

The oldest of the communities is Grayton Beach, which celebrates its 120th birthday this year. The shoreline of Grayton Beach State Park was named a national winner in 1994 by ``Dr. Beach,'' Stephen Leatherman. The park boasts massive dunes, winding trails, abundant wildlife, and Western Lake, one of the loveliest of the 15 coastal dune lakes found along Highway 30A.
The town itself is a laid-back place with oyster shell roads where historic cottages mix with modern beach houses in the shade of pines and oaks. For a long time, ``town'' meant one combination general store and Saturday night dance hall. That building still stands as the very popular Red Bar.

The original breezy, weathered cypress homes in Grayton Beach were among the inspirations for neighboring Seaside, the best-known village along the highway. This planned community developed in the early 1980s is in a style known as New Urbanism, imitating compact towns of the past where neighbors visited on the front porch and could easily walk to town.
Pastel cottages with pretty porches and white picket fences are set on narrow lanes, all no more than a five-minute walk from the town center or beach. A network of sand walkways cuts through the middle of blocks, allowing for a comfortable barefoot walk to the beach. At the end of each street stands a beach pavilion; there are nine in all, no two alike.
Seaside was the setting of the idyllic town featured in the movie The Truman Show.
Similar developments followed, each with a spirit of its own. Rosemary Beach, boasting a wide village green, has a West Indies influence. WaterColor added a luxurious seaside inn and gourmet restaurant to the mix. The newest development, elegant Alys Beach, has a Bermuda look.
Driving from town to town is a treat because each has its own shops and galleries. Florida's Panhandle definitely is Deep South, and there's a lot of appealing Southern folk art to be seen with artists often on hand to tell you about their work.
Big Mama's Hula Girl Gallery in Grayton Beach is a hoot, a funky and delightful mix of artwork by the owner, Debbie Weant-Lane, and whimsical glass mosaics by Phil Kiser, who was a recent Beaches of the South Walton Artist of the Year.
Seaside's Eileen West gallery is filled with charming Southern folk art known as ``Outsider'' for artists who have no professional training. The gallery is set along Ruskin Place, a cache of shops and galleries around a scenic green where an open house Art Walk takes place the first Friday of each month.
The Artists at Gulf Place in Santa Rosa Beach is a cooperative artists' colony and open air market where the wares include handcrafted jewelry, pottery and beach photography, as well as all kinds of local art.
The gallery of Justin Gaffrey in Blue Water Beach shows the work of another former Artist of the Year whose oil paintings are done in a style called ``impasto,'' using thick applications of paint to produce a textured, three-dimensional effect.
WaterColor has a satellite branch of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans museum that has the country's largest collection of Southern art.
Those in search of more traditional shopping should take the 20-minute drive to Sandestin on U.S. Highway 98 (the Emerald Coast Highway), where they will find familiar stores like Chico, J.Crew and Coldwater Creek. The Silver Sands Factory Stores complex features names like Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole and Michael Kors.
Sandestin will also please vacationers who prefer a complete resort. The Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort offers seven miles of private beach plus bay front for boating, four championship golf courses, and Baytowne Wharf, a pedestrian village with more shops, some of the area's best dining and lively nightlife.
While some of the area's few high-rise hotels are here, the beautifully landscaped acres also include a number of cottage communities in keeping with the spirit of the region. The variety of lodgings means rates for every budget. Convenient resort shuttle service means you can relax once you arrive, with no need for a car to get around.
Like all of little-heralded South Walton, the resort is a find.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


With thousands of new military personnel being assigned and all their supporting cast, which comes with them; it is only natural we are going to need to find them a place to eat, drink, and be merry. Also, keep in mind, the Air Force is building a new Resort on Okaloosa Island, which will draw thousands of visitors, a year.

Trade magazine ranks the Fort Walton Beach area as the best place to open a restaurant
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448  

A national trade magazine for the restaurant industry has named Fort Walton Beach and its surrounding communities as the best area in the country to open a new restaurant. Restaurant Business magazine compiles a list each year of the top 150 cities in the country to open a restaurant. For the past several years, Fort Walton Beach has ranked second to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Fort Walton Beach claimed the top spot for the first time in the magazine’s April edition. “We as a community have to be monumentally proud of that that fact,” said Ted Corcoran, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. “That is a great, great reflection on the perception of Fort Walton Beach, as we’re now getting up there with the big boys. Fort Walton Beach is on the map again in a category of fun and quality of life.”
Corcoran said he believed the diversity of customers available to Fort Walton Beach restaurants is the reason the city scored so well in Restaurant Business’ list.
“Certainly military, local residents and tourists is a nice variety to choose from,” Corcoran said. “I think the quality of life in our area lends itself to people dining out and relaxing, having a good time. “There is a very relaxed environment in our area for a lot of folks who enjoy dining out as part of that relaxation,” he added. “Many, many people go out for lunch for their job or part of their social scene.” Nielsen Claritas, the company that also tracks television ratings, compiles a list of the top U.S. markets for restaurants each year. Nielsen uses a formula that looks at restaurant sales per capita in a given market versus per capita sales nationwide, along with other figures, to determine a city’s restaurant growth index. The Fort Walton Beach area has seen an influx of new restaurants in recent months. Among them is Cajun Kitchen on Mary Esther Cut-Off next to the Sprint store. The Cajun restaurant opened in September. Although it got off to a slow start, owner Brad Miller said business has picked up. “It does kind of surprise me a little,” Miller said of Fort Walton Beach’s restaurant ranking. “I would think that if it was rated the best, then my business would have exploded from the beginning, but it didn’t. It took a little while for me to grow up my clientele. “The military has a huge, huge influence on the restaurants surviving,” he added. “If it wasn’t for the military base, I don’t think my business would be doing as well as it is right now. They’re definitely a motivation for me to keep doing specials for the military because they’re so loyal in coming back.” Tom Rice, who opened the Magnolia Grill in downtown Fort Walton Beach in 1996, does not put much faith in lists such as the one in Restaurant Business, but he said it still was nice to see. “Certainly for those of us that have a restaurant here, we thought it was a good thing,” Rice said. “I’m proud of the mom and pops that open up and tend to give back to the community in a greater percentage than the chain places … We’re proud our area was selected.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Okay folks, if you had any doubt about the F-35 Training Squadron coming to Eglin AFB, I think you need to rethink your position. As noted below, this is a significant move and has not been done without some thought and more importantly, MONEY. Literally, hundreds of thousands of military construction dollars in the works NOW!!! With this move and the movement of the Army 7th Special Forces at this time, we will see a run on our real estate market. Stay tuned, I will be having a representative from the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron giving a presentation to my NWF Military Officer's Association in June of this year. If you are a retired, active duty, or former military officer, you are invited to attend and become a member.

by Samuel King Jr.96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs4/5/2010 -
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The first-ever Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter training squadron, the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, stood up April 2 here.The significance of the occasion was not just for the new F-35 unit, but also it marked the first time a Marine Corps squadron was embedded in an Air Force wing."And they couldn't have picked a better place to start," said Lt. Col. James Wellon, the VMFAT-501 commander, referring to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base.The squadron was redesignated from the VMFAT-451, a 13-year retired squadron that was reactivated April 1 for the ceremony."This is truly a historic event," said Maj. Gen. James F. Flock, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing commander. "It has taken a lot of hard work to move toward joint-basing. It's been a genuine grassroots effort here at Eglin (AFB) to make joint-basing a possibility."This is the next chapter in the future of Marine aviation toward the "direction of an all-short take off and vertical landing force," the general said. The ceremony took place with the three current Marine aircraft, the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and the EA-6B Prowler in the distance.The Marine F-35 variant will be equipped with the STOVL ability. Just two weeks prior to the stand up, the first vertical landing of the F-35B STOVL took place March 18.The joint strike fighter mission rested on the shoulders of the 37 "hard-charging" Marines currently assigned to the unit who are tasked with training the future pilots and maintainers, the general said. According to Marine officials, the VMFAT-501 is scheduled to receive its first F-35B in the winter of 2010. Training of instructor pilots will follow. The Marines hope to have eight initial cadre and two operational test pilots trained within a year.