Wednesday, March 23, 2011


10 more destinations for Vision
Airline will begin serving an additional five cities April 1
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448  

Friday will be a big day for Vision Airlines. In December, the airline launched direct flights from Northwest Florida Regional Airport to Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Miami. On Friday it will expand service to 10 additional destinations, with five more to start the following week. “We want to be part of the revitalization of the area,” said Clay Meek, marketing and business development director for Vision Airlines. “We’re doing our part to make sure that there are plenty of heads in beds. That’s part of our commitment to the community.” Vision Airlines’ newest destinations will be Atlanta; Baton Rouge, La.; Fort Lauderdale; Fort Myers; Huntsville, Ala.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark.; Louisville, Ky.; Savannah, Ga.; and Tampa. Service will start April 1 to and from Chattanooga, Tenn.; Shreveport, La.; Asheville, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; and Orlando. Meek said Louisville has been the top seller to and from Northwest Florida Regional, followed by Little Rock and Shreveport. He said Vision Airlines started direct flights between Louisville and Atlanta last year, which helped establish the airline there before the expansion to Northwest Florida was announced. While sales for most destinations have been strong, reservations for two destinations did not meet expectations and those flights have been canceled. “We did end up deciding not to serve Birmingham or Macon,” Meek said. “I wasn’t that surprised Macon didn’t make it. I thought that was a little bit of a stretch just because it’s not that big of a town. But Birmingham has so many people that drive (to Northwest Florida), we thought it would do really, really well.” To celebrate the expanded service, Vision Airlines is having a sale in which a certain number of seats on every plane scheduled to fly between now and May 21 will sell for $19. The sale, which was set to end Thursday, has been so successful that Vision Airlines has extended it to 11:59 p.m. Sunday. “We believe if we can put someone on this aircraft, that they’re going to strongly consider putting the family on it at $99 a seat three months from now when it’s June,” Meek said. “It makes good business sense to us.” So far, most of the attention has been about the tourists Vision Airlines will bring to the area. Meek said he hopes locals will take advantage of the low fares to visit other areas in the Southeast. “This is a great opportunity to take the family and put them on a plane at $190, $200 round trip, put four people on a plane and go get away for the weekend and see the Biltmore (mansion in Ashville, N.C.),” Meek said.


If you don’t think this project doesn’t change the dynamics between Crestview and Fort Walton you have your head in the sand. As Senator Gaetz, local Senate Representative, noted. The only logistical place for most of the new residents coming to our area for the massive growth coming to our area is the North side of Crestview, and this Flyover is just a start to make the commute to work, shopping, and of course to the beautiful beaches of the emerald coast an easy one. If you didn’t know, this Flyover is at the entrance of the new F-35 Training Squadron on Eglin AFB, where over 2000 permanent military/civilian personnel are being assigned in the next couple of years, and entrance of the Northwest Florida Regional, where Vision Airlines will place their new HUB.

‘We need a good summer’
Work will change access to airport
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438
Crews will start building a portion of the $32.4 million flyover next week that will elevate traffic above the intersection of State Roads 85 and 123. The long dirt ramp on the east side of SR 85 also will begin taking shape as the flyover’s southern approach. “We’ll start putting the lime rock base in next week, and that has to go in in two (layers) … to get proper density and compaction,” said Project Administrator Mike Lenga with Greenhorne & O’Mara, the firm managing the project. Paving on the ramp will begin in the next few weeks, he added. Construction on the flyover, which is funded with federal stimulus money, began in August 2009. “It’s going well and it’s on schedule,” said Tommie Speights, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. “We’re still shooting for a 2012 completion. It all depends on the weather.” The project will widen SR 85 to six lanes between General Bond Boulevard and Northwest Florida Regional Airport. The flyover on northbound SR 85 will connect motorists to SR 123. Access to the airport also will be improved by elevating the north and southbound lanes of SR 85 to pass above the northernmost entrance to the airport. A new frontage road will link the airport to SR 123. “I think it is going to be an awesome asset to this area,” Lenga said. “Every time you have cars crossing each other’s paths, you have a potential for an accident. By creating this flyover, you eliminate that intersection. You’re reducing areas of conflict.” The flyover was designed by H.W. Lochner and is being built by Anderson-Columbia. In the next week, work will start on the two small airport exit overpass bridges, Lenga said. “They ’re mobilizing equipment now,” he said. “We just moved the northbound traffic over (to the frontage road) so we could do this.” Crews will begin to drive test pilings into ground to determine how deep support beams must go to support the bridge. Workers also will build a concrete gravity wall on the ramp that will take traffic off southbound SR 85 and connect it either to SR 123 or the airport, Lenga said. The weather has been cooperative so far. When it has rained, the water hasn’t caused long-term problems. “It’s pretty sandy out there, so the water disappears pretty quickly,” Lenga said. “All in all, it’s been great.” His biggest concern now is keeping his workers safe. He acknowledges that construction is frustrating for motorists, but urges them to heed the speed limits. “These guys out there working, standing next to the road, they’re not protected,” he said “They have families. If you slow down through that 2-mile, 3-mile section … you’re not taking more than 10, 15 seconds out of your day. Isn’t that worth saving a life?” Lenga said the flyover is on schedule to wrap up sometime next spring or early summer. “We’re hoping to finish early on the job,” he said. “We need a good summer. Once the bridge work really starts kicking off, which is going to happen next week, we’ll really start picking up.” He said one of the biggest benefits of the flyover is increased capacity. “We’re adding lanes, so we’re increasing capacity to get through a congested area,” Lenga said. “I think when (motorists) see the final project, they’re going to really appreciate what happened.”

Sunday, March 20, 2011


As you will read below, the new FAMU Pharmacy School is moving forward and excitement is in the air for further growth of higher education options in Crestview. Along with this initiative and talks of a Dental School by FAMU, growth of Troy University, NW Florida State College, University of West Florida in Crestview, Crestview will continue to be a choice for many to call home.

Plans progressing on FAMU pharmacy school
Renovation of the Alatex building should begin in June or July, according to school representatives
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — City leaders recently got a glimpse of the future of the historic Alatex building. Officials from Florida A&M University shared updated floor plans for the 1930s landmark’s reincarnation as the local campus of FAMU’s pharmacy school. The school’s interim dean, Marlon Honeywell, reviewed the plans with Crestview Mayor David Cadle. He repeated the school’s commitment to maintaining the historic character of the building, which is an anchor for the city’s designated National Commercial Historic District. “The architects from FAMU are coming to town soon to meet with the Crestview Historical Society to receive any input they have to preserve the historic aspects of the Alatex building,” Cadle said. According to the plans, the building’s large windows will help provide light for classrooms, teaching laboratories, a working “model” pharmacy, administrative offices and a medical library. A large skylight also will illuminate a floor-to-ceiling entrance atrium. Behind a Plexiglas railing on the second floor, students and faculty can gaze down to the lobby. “It’s going to be very, very bright inside,” Cadle said. Honeywell provided a tentative timeline for the renovation in an email to city and university officials. Planning and soil inspections are under way, according to the email. The school hopes to review design developments Friday and 50 percent of the working drawings should be completed by April 1. FAMU hopes to begin construction in June or July. The work should be completed in May 2012 and the first class will be admitted that fall. “We look forward to moving into our new home,” Honeywell said in the email. “We are also hopeful that our new neighbors will be there to celebrate with us as we move in.” At last week’s City Council meeting, Cadle said FAMU soon will look for office space for administrators who will arrive before the renovation is complete. Cadle said FAMU is also considering adding a dental school to the facility in the future.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and more Jobs. This is just a precursor to further job growth at the Crestview Industrial Airpark. As you may not know, this Airport is located on the North side of the City of Crestview and less than 2 miles from the new Shopping Center with brand new move theater, a number of new banks, the only Post Office in town, only High School in town, new Community Center, the only Public Library, the new Chamber of Commerce Building, and much more. Do you see the writing on the board? If not, give me a call.

A Qwest for parts
Plane parts worth more than the whole
March 17, 2011 8:21 AM
Brian Hughes Crestview News Bulletin
With ground recently broken on Qwest Air Parts’ hangar at Crestview Bob Sikes Airport, in a few months, the Memphis, Tenn.,-based company will begin hiring local crews to disassemble aircraft. Qwest doesn’t plan to stop local expansion with just a hangar: a 10,000-square-foot warehouse could also be on the company’s radar, said Operations Manager Charlie Rugen. In technical parlance, “parting out” is what Qwest does, Rugen told the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s Airport Committee. While other airport tenants build, repair and enhance aircraft, Rugen’s company disintegrates them. “We are a supplier of aircraft parts,” Rugen said. “We obtain these parts through the recycling of commercial aircraft. We supply these parts to major airlines all over the world, as well as to brokers.” Qwest, which also has facilities in California and Nevada, hit the ground running when they arrived in Crestview. Seemingly within days, a pair of World Airways DC-10s flew into town, and no sooner were they parked off the Bob Sikes taxiway than temporary crews from the Memphis home office were scrambling over the aircraft, removing valuable instrumentation and hardware. “As soon as he hit the ground, things started to happen,” county Airports Manager Scott Musser said. “This is an airport that’s never seen this kind of activity before.” When each part is removed, if it isn’t already ordered by one of Qwest’s clients, it is listed almost immediately on an online inventory locator. As airplane models age and manufacturers stop milling parts, the components Qwest removes become valuable commodities for companies that still fly those models, Rugen said. “As the parts or engines become more scarce, the aircraft could be worth more as parts than an entire aircraft,” he said. “Everything you can hear and see in an aircraft will disappear. The rest is recycled for scrap metal.” Airport neighbors and tenants won’t have to face a junkyard of leftover airplane hulks, Rugen assured. Once the parts and components are removed, a recycling contractor will remove any remaining insulation and fluids, then chew the hulk up into smaller pieces and remove it. “Part of our contract with those companies is to remove all insulation and clean up any fluid that’s dropped,” Rugen said. “Their operation is a clean operation,” confirmed Airport Committee chairman Brad Hall, vice president of maintenance for Emerald Coast Aviation, the airport’s fixed-base operator. Airport officials said Qwest’s 22,000-square-foot hangar should be completed at the end of the summer. The company’s five-year goal is to dismantle eight to 12 aircraft a year in Crestview using a staff of 10 to 15 people, Rugen said. The 5-10 year plan is to disassemble as many as 15 aircraft a year with a staff of 15-20. While Qwest’s future in Crestview is bright, Rugen confessed the tinkerer inside of him is sometimes conflicted. “These aircraft are only 30 years old,” Rugen said. “As a guy who’s never seen a toaster oven he didn’t want to fix, it’s really heartbreaking to see these planes fly in and get turned into scrap.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


We have talked about the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group coming to Northwest Florida and at the same time, the F-35 Training Squadron is setting up shop at Eglin where they will train Pilots for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine, approximately 12 NATO countries, and the Israelis, on the newest state of the art Fighter in the world. As you follow this significant movement to Northwest Florida, you will find they will have a very significant impact not only in this area, but the whole world. It will bring attention by almost every country in the world as these pilots complete the training and the planes are delivered to their home countries. So stay tuned, as the Aerospace Industry grows in our area, so will our area grow.

Navy presence grows as F-35 date nearsspecial Staff ReportTeam Eglin Public Affairs3/16/2011 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- In the heart of the Air Force's largest base, surrounded by Air Force blue, sits Capt. Michael Saunders. The former Top Gun skipper and current 33rd Operations Group deputy commander is charged with spearheading efforts in building the future fifth generation Naval fighter. If that task isn't enough to keep him busy, he'll also make history March 31, as he assumes command of the 33rd Operations Group in the 33rd Fighter Wing. The 33rd Fighter Wing stands as the world's first F-35 Integrated Training Center, qualifying Navy, Marine, Air Force and international partner pilots and maintainers in the F-35. The F-35 Lightning II will have three variants to accommodate the needs of each service. The Navy variant is the F-35C. "The first Navy Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-101, is on track to stand up in March of 2012, with the first F-35C slated to arrive at Eglin in September of 2012," Captain Saunders said. There's plenty of work to be done before an F-35 takes to the skies at Eglin. "Right now we're bringing in people and equipment, building our facilities, and establishing the processes that will serve as the foundation - not only for the future of naval aviation - but for all services, and our international partners," said the 22-year veteran. Joining Captain Saunders in this massive undertaking is Navy Cmdr. Michael Williams. Commander Williams leads the Fleet Integration Team of two officers and six chief petty officers. As commander of the 33d Operations Group, Captain Saunders will lead F-35 flying operations for all three services. "Once flying operations commence, our first task will be to train the F-35 initial cadre instructor pilots and operational test pilots for the Navy, Air Force, and the Marines. We've assembled an incredible joint team to stand up this program," said the captain who has F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 experience. While Captain Saunders holds the most visible Naval leadership position at Eglin, he is not the only Navy presence in the 33d Fighter Wing's leadership structure. Navy Capt. Steven James directs the wing's Academic Training Center. The ATC will conduct all F-35 pilot and maintainer academic training, as well as simulator training. Our campus is truly a state-of-the-art facility, leveraging all of the latest technology to take joint training to an entirely new level," Captain James said. Additionally, Navy Cmdr. Joel Tessier serves as the director of operations for the 33rd Maintenance Squadron. His unit directly supports the maintenance for all three variants of the F-35. The Bureau of Naval Personnel is currently detailing the Navy's best and most qualified personnel to join the F-35 program here at Eglin.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Vision Airlines to brief our organization on the future of Vision Airlines and the impact they will be making in Okaloosa County. All military officers, active, retired, and former are encouraged to attend the upcoming April 6, 2011 meeting. This month our meeting will be at Two Trees Restaurant located at the Fort Walton Beach Golf Course from 7:15 to 9:00 A.M. The buffet breakfast is $8.00 and reservations can be made by visiting or by calling Ken Wright at 850-582-6442 by April 1, 2011.

This plans to be a great event with Vision Airlines donating 4 roundtrip tickets anywhere they serve to help benefit the NWFMOA Scholarship Fund and the Choctaw ROTC. So please come and enjoy the company of fellow officers and civic leaders in our committee. Also, don’t hesitate to spread the word to other military officers (active, retired or former) and encourage them to attend.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Just another indication things are looking up for the City of Crestview. The cry in the past by the community of Crestview has always been, we need a movie theater and more restaurants, and now their cries are being heard. On the north side of Crestview, this is where it is happening and with the military growth and the growth of the Crestview Industrial Airpark, the north side of the City seems to be the best place. Stay tuned, as always, there is more news to follow.

Johnny O’Quigley’s to open in Crestview
Will be ‘prototype for north Florida’
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — A Johnny O’Quigley’s Ale House under construction in north Crestview is slated to open at the beginning of May. “It’ll be nice to have something new that isn’t fast food,” said Tracy McGann, an employee at Robert L.F. Sikes Public Library. “Anytime you don’t have to drive all the way to Fort Walton or Destin is good.” The restaurant, which bears the name of owner Johnny O’Quigley, will be at the corner of Industrial Drive and Richbourg Lane. “We’re putting a lot of energy into it,” O’Quigley said. “It’s our prototype store for north Florida.” Having operated restaurants in the Midwest and south Florida, O’Quigley operates one of his signature restaurants in Destin and said he was contemplating opening others next in Panama City and Pensacola. “We chose Crestview first,” O’Quigley said. “We just felt Crestview is the right place in north Florida. It’s an up and coming area.” Though his Destin restaurant’s clientele includes snowbirds and tourists, O’Quigley said his Crestview location will be popular primarily with area families and sports fans. He is planning a new design for Crestview that will accommodate both, he said. “We’ll have two different sections,” O’Quigley said. “One side is very family-oriented. The other side will be sports-friendly. The dining side will be completely isolated from the sports side. It’s truly going to be an establishment for the family. We’re family friends forever.” Full meals will be available during the restaurant’s daily 11 a.m. to midnight opening hours, O’Quigley said. His chef, Crestview resident Will Jeffries, not only developed the menu, but helped identify the site for the new restaurant. “We chose the north end of the city to take the pressure off the south end,” O’Quigley said, adding he was attracted by the proximity of the new Marquis Cinema, the Twin Creeks Crossing shopping center under development adjacent to the cinema, and the indications of expanded growth in north Crestview. “We’re excited to be up there,” he said. “Everyone that will be employed in that location will be from the Crestview area.” Crestview resident Annie Whitmore likes the location. “The less we have to trek south, the better,” Whitmore said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


As I have noted before, the buyers are demanding more from builders and sellers and they are walking away if it is not exactly what they are looking for, even if they are getting great deals. Recent surveys are reflecting that. So, what is the lesson. Make sure, what you are promising, you are delivering! Buyers are NOT buying on a vision. They want to see it and touch it or an iron clad guarantee it will be there. This may not be realistic, so a compromise will have to be made to sell a home.

Picky first-time buyers may lose out on great deals

WASHINGTON – March 7, 2011 – Finding a “move-in ready” home was important to 87 percent of 300 first-time buyers recently polled by Coldwell Banker Real Estate. Some agents say first-timers are being more selective; and some are even turning away from well-priced homes because they do not have granite countertops, need a new carpet or have wall colors not to their liking. Zillow says higher downpayments and stricter underwriting standards mean today’s buyers want to ensure their homes need few – or at least inexpensive – improvements. According to real estate agents, HGTV and other cable channels have made today’s buyers more knowledgeable about home design, and some worry that such programming also has given buyers unrealistic expectations. “You can’t have the big yard, the top-line updates, and all that in a starter home,” says Cindy Westfall of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Prudential NW Properties. “You’ve got to compromise somewhere or else you’ll never buy anything.”Source: Washington Post (03/05/11) P. E2; Harney, Kenneth R.