Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“This clinic is going to have about 105 workers”. The third floor clinic has 85 new personnel. These incoming personnel areto support the growth of BRAC and were not accounted for in the BRAC 2005. What I am trying to say? We need some more quality/affordable homes to meet our growing needs. Oh yea, just another reason, retired military flock to this area.

Eglin debuts new dental clinic
Mona Moore
EGLIN AFB — In preparation for the population boom expected from new BRAC missions, the base has built a 31,000-square-foot dental clinic. The two-story clinic near Eglin Air Force Base’s hospital will replace the 21,000-square-foot space currently used for dental services on the third floor of the hospital’s clinic tower. The lower floor of the new clinic, which opened June 7, will be used for general dentistry, exams and sick calls. The second floor will be used for residency training and dental specialty care. The addition will allow the clinic to expand the number of patients it sees each day. It has 52 treatment rooms, 11 more than the existing space. Col. Erik Meyers, advanced education general dentistry director and acting commander of the dental squadron, said the changes will come just in time for the BRAC missions. “The growth here at Eglin is borderline explosive in terms of the services the hospital is preparing to offer,” Meyers said. The new clinic is part of Eglin’s effort to recapture some of the medical care in the tri-county area, especially in Crestview where many Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) families are expected to relocate. “We’re trying to save money ... across the DOD like crazy, and this is just one way that we’ll be able to do that,” Meyers said. “If we’re able to keep the people in our network and treat patients in our own backyard by our providers, we’re able to render more cost-efficient health care, which is the bottom line.” The relocation of the dental clinic will allow other medical services to use the abandoned third-floor space in the hospital. The renovation of the clinic is part of a larger expansion project that will begin when funding is in place. Eglin will be opening new specialty programs, although specifics of the expansion are not yet available, Meyers said. The clinic currently provides about $9 million in dental care annually. Meyers expects it to provide nearly $12 million in dental care by the time all the new active-duty personnel arrive and the clinic is fully up and running. The additional active-duty members also will drive the need for more manpower, Meyers said. The clinic is going to have about 105 workers, including 22 dentists and eight advanced education and general dentistry residents. The third floor clinic had 85 people. Eglin’s dental program is one of 13 advanced education programs in general dental residencies in the Air Force. The new clinic will be the most state-of-the-art facility in the Air Force dental service, and possibly within the Department of Defense, because it’s the newest. “Since the facility is so modernized, it’s going to allow us to train our eight residents in the newest, most up-to-date, most current technologically-advanced setting,” Meyers said. Dentists will be able to X-ray patients in every exam room. The addition also includes new dental chairs with built-in computer monitors. “(That) is going to allow the dentist to use the video screen as a teaching tool and as a patient education tool, and also be able to view X-rays right over the patient,” Meyers said. The dental program will operate the same as it always has. “As far as the type of care we deliver, we’re already knocking it out of the park,” Meyers said. “We can’t do any better. We’re just going to be delivering it in a different setting.”

Saturday, June 18, 2011



Airport tops passenger record again
More than 111,000 people used Northwest Florida Regional in May
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 dricketts@nwfdailynews.com
In July 2001, Northwest Florida Regional Airport served 83,846 passengers. For almost 10 years, that was the record for the most passengers in one month. The airport now has shattered the record for the second time in two months. Northwest Florida Regional had a record 96,788 passengers in April. And last month 111,566 people flew into or out of the airport, a 57 percent jump from May 2010.
“It shows the strength of the product being offered here by all five airlines,” said Greg Donovan, Okaloosa County’s airports director. “Vision Airlines clearly has been the most dramatic, but the products being offered here are distinctive. I think the service to these 24 cities makes it much more viable to fly now than it ever has been before. “I was hoping we would hit the 100,000 mark (in May),” Donovan added. “When the number came in at 111,000, it exceeded my expectations and I know there’s even more potential there.” Donovan attributed much of the increase to Vision’s decision to use the airport as its hub. Also, people who were scared off last year because of the oil spill are returning this year. “This is the type of positive performance we’re going to continue to work hard at,” Donovan said. “I think we can go even higher, and that’s what we’re striving for. The months of June, July and August will reflect a fully implemented schedule.” May’s numbers do not reflect the five new destinations Vision Airlines launched earlier this month, including Las Vegas and St. Louis. Other airports along the Gulf Coast also showed increases in ridership. Passengers at Pens a c o l a G u l f C o a s t Regional Airport were up 6.4 percent in May with 154,792 passengers. Business at the Mobile, Ala., Regional Airport was up 6.8 percent with 54,002 passengers. Figures for Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Bay County were not available.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The Governor continues on with his promise to make Florida business friendly. With the abolishing of the Department of Community Affairs effective October 1, 2011, I am sure we will be on track to make Florida an inviting place to be for business.

Fla. growth management agency prepares to close TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – June 15, 2011 – After 42 years, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, which is charged with monitoring housing and commercial development in Florida, will cease to exist. Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill (SB 2156) Tuesday that dismantles the growth management agency and merges it with several other agencies, such as the Agency for Workforce Innovation, to form a new state agency. The Department of Economic Opportunity will officially be created on Oct. 1, but preparations are already underway to dissolve the Department of Community Affairs to form the new agency. That means dozens of employees could find themselves out of a job by the end of the month. This major overhaul of state agencies was a prominent part of Scott’s legislative agenda. It’s the first major reshuffling of state agencies since the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services was dissolved into four different agencies in the early 1990s in response to scandals and an effort to cut costs. “The bill I signed today provides us flexibility to seize opportunities created by developing markets and effectively respond to the changing needs of the businesses that grow our economy,” Scott said in a prepared statement. The bureaucratic shuffle is intended to help create jobs, Scott said. The growth management agency is being eliminated in concert with a new law that drastically reduces the agency’s power to supervise development decisions, which will now be made largely at the local level. The agency, established in 1969, was designed to help prevent sprawl and congestion. The massive 838-page bill also implements other bureaucratic changes, such as shifting millions of dollars into a new fund supervised by the Department of Economic Opportunity dedicated to incentivizing businesses to come to Florida. For the people who worked at the Department of Community Affairs, the changes to the growth management law and the transformation into the new agency means they might lose their job. Approximately 220 people currently work at the department, and about 150 will retain their jobs. The people responsible for overseeing what is left of the gutted growth management law will be transferred to the new Department of Economic Opportunity. Those jobs are shrinking from more than 60 to just over 30 positions. Other positions, such as the 16 people responsible for overseeing the Florida Forever land preservation program, will be shifted to the Department of Environmental Protection. There will also be about 15 jobs involved in regulating Florida building codes shifted to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. DCA spokesman James Miller said no decisions have been as to what happens to the building that the Department of Community Affairs occupies. It’s in Southeast Tallahassee’s Southwood development, which is also home to several other state agencies. Miller said efforts were made to find jobs for some of the employees whose positions were cut. So far, about 10 employees out of about 70 facing job losses have found jobs in other state agencies, he said. While DCA employees await the transfer of duties, groups that routinely do business with the planning agency are closely watching the construction of the new state agency to determine how they might be impacted. Charles Pattison, president of 1,000 Friends of Florida, said the group would shift its efforts more toward local governments and away from what had been a more centralized approach. Without DCA playing the role of overseer, local planning decisions will have to be dealt with locally by citizens who previously did not have to navigate the complex world of comprehensive planning. “Our response is that we will have to work harder with the public,” Pattison said. Pattison said one fear is that the planning function will become secondary to the new agency’s primary purpose of attracting businesses to the state and assisting the efforts of Florida companies to retain jobs and expand. “There is clearly a role to be played protecting the state’s quality of life and the environment,” Pattison said. “We see those areas as key economic benefits the state offers.” Jaimie Ross, president of the Florida Housing Coalition, a group of affordable housing advocates, says the coalition is watching how the new agency will divvy up federal community redevelopment funds that formerly passed through DCA. One concern is that affordable housing dollars will become another marketing tool to attract companies to the state instead of targeted to the people in need of services. “There may well be a change of focus to using them as economic development incentives,” Ross said. On the other hand, Ross said the change of leadership and focus could remove some of the restrictions that DCA has placed on affordable housing funds. In either case, state oversight will diminish.“My take on this is that we are going to need citizens to be involved on the local level,” Ross said. “Most decisions will be made at the local level.”


Folks, if you think this is good news in the building industry, you haven’t seen anything yet. Remember in most cases, the military transfer after their kids get out of school, which is in June and this is when they begin to arrive. Also, many of our rental companies are running out of inventory. Many of the new arrivals are not only the 7th Specials Group, we also have the normal transfer of about 25-30% of the military population here, which are thousands. Another FACTOID, is many of the new arrivals are panicking because of the supply of quality homes available are low and renting is becoming very hard. For of this is predicated on the NATIONAL NEWS that the housing is plentiful and prices LOW. OOPS. Wrong answer here. Oh, yea did we forget the Military has appropriately 1800 homes less than normal because of their new NEEDS ANALYSIS. So what I am saying and continue to say, because of the banking world, we have not positioned ourselves very well to provide housing to our military forces arriving and with the many military personnel coming along with the other industries growing in our area, it will get interesting.

Home sales up on Emerald Coast
Average price was up in Okaloosa County, but down in Walton, Santa Rosa
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 dricketts@nwfdailynews.com
Property values for single-family homes and condominiums in Okaloosa County increased in May, and local Realtors credited the improvement to the arrival of the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group. Metro Market Trends released its May real estate sales reports for Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties earlier this week. The number of single-family homes sold in all three counties increased compared to May 2010. However, Okaloosa County was the only one to have the average home value increase. “We have more people wanting to live in Okaloosa County with the BRAC realignment and with the Special Forces coming in,” said Jean Floyd, a local Realtor and president of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. “The Special Forces, they’re going to be here by September. Those people are coming in, buying in Crestview, buying in Niceville, Fort Walton Beach. We are almost at a seller’s market in Okaloosa County. “Houses are selling that are priced right and they will continue to do so because we have a very desirable area, but we also have a huge population that’s transferring,” Floyd added. In Okaloosa County, 294 single-family homes were sold in May, an increase of more than 16 percent from May 2010. Walton County’s home sales increased by nearly 8 percent and Santa Rosa County was up 10.5 percent. Condominium and townhome sales were up 29.17 percent in Okaloosa County, with 93 units sold last month compared to the 72 units sold in May 2010. Walton County was up 36.62 percent in May, with 97 units sold versus 71 a year ago. Santa Rosa County was up 125 percent in May, with nine units sold compared to four the year before. “We have every reason to be optimistic that the current measured trend will continue,” Angela Campbell, association executive for the Navarre Area Board of Realtors, wrote in an email. “A ripple effect will be felt throughout the tri-county area as the huge influx of military personnel arrives and either buys a home or chooses to rent, which, in turn, will attract investors to the market to satisfy their housing needs.” Property values in the three areas continued to fluctuate in May. Okaloosa County showed signs of improvement while values were still down in Santa Rosa and Walton counties. According to Metro Market Trends, the average price of each home sold in Okaloosa was $208,527, a slight increase from last May’s average of $206,004. Average townhome and condominium prices saw an even larger increase, from $263,100 last year to $319,991.29 this May. Walton County had the largest decrease in single-family home prices, according to Metro Market Trends. The average home sold last month cost $419,530 compared to $540,680 last May. Values for townhomes and condominiums also suffered, with the average price dropping more than $80,000 compared to May 2010. The average price of a single-family home sold in Santa Rosa County was about $6,000 less last month than in May 2010. The average sale price of townhomes and condominiums was $133,800, down more than $52,000 from last May. “Pricing is key to a successful transaction,” Campbell wrote. “Buyers are wanting to see everything on the market in their price range and then to use a Realtor’s savvy negotiating skills to garner the best possible deal. If their schedule permits, buyers are taking advantage of great deals, with over one-third of this year’s sales (combined residential) attributable to a distressed sale.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


As promised, companies continue to move to the Crestview Airport. Yes, the Army’s 7th Special Forces and the F-35 Training Squadron is having an massive impact on us. However, as I have said many times before, they are just a trigger. The Crestview Industrial Airpark continues to be a draw and the State keeps sending money to the County for improvements, the latest being close to $5M for runway improvements. The allows this airport to land any plane the world has to offer, which it has with the C-5A and the Russians, equilvant. Not to bore you with the same, but I can assure you, more is on the way with more new companies and more expansions of existing tenants at the Airport.

Company to relocate to Bob Sikes Airport
June 13, 2011 5:31 PM
Dusty Ricketts
Daily News
CRESTVIEW — Al Ingle had an opportunity to move his company Capital Avionics to Okaloosa County six years ago, but opted to stay in Tallahassee. It’s a decision he not only regrets but is rectifying. A satellite office for Capital Avionics will open at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview this week, the first step in transitioning the entire business operation to Okaloosa County. “There are no business opportunities in aviation at the Tallahassee airport,” Ingle said. “(In Okaloosa County) the people are so friendly and so proactive, I feel like I’m coming home to come to these folks. They’re so nice and so helpful. “It’s just a great business environment in Crestview, and Tallahassee has just a poor business environment,” Ingle added. Capital Avionics is not a large company, currently employing 15 people, but Larry Sassano, president of the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, said it is an important one for the area. Capital Avionics creates custom-designed testing equipment for companies in the aviation field, and the company already has clients in Okaloosa County. “There aren’t many avionics operations in Florida,” Sassano said. “The closest one to here I think is in Jacksonville. That’s a real benefit to have someone like that in our park because it helps companies like Emerald Coast Aviation as well.” The EDC is working with the state on securing business incentives available to Capital Avionics. Ingle said he expects to hire four employees for the initial Okaloosa County branch of his business. He then plans to build a new 15,500-square-foot hangar and 12,000-square-foot component repair and equipment testing facility at Bob Sikes and move the remaining Capital Avionics employees over once that is completed. Ingle said it will take about two years to complete the two buildings and he expects the staff to have doubled in size by that time. “He’s a sharp businessman; he knows his products very well and he’s passionate about it,” Sassano said. “He’ll be a real asset for us. He’s filling a gap there and he’ll help a lot of the companies in that park because he’s already doing business with some of them.”

Monday, June 13, 2011


Governor Scott continues to follow up on his promise to make Florida business friendly and with the latest move, it will continue to be. With massive growth in the panhandle of Florida because of the aerospace, defense, and tourism growing exponentially, this latest move will definitely help our local governments make way for them to help provide the things our present and future residents need. So, Developers and Builders, we await you. We not only await you, we desperately need you.

State loosens regulations on builders
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4445 lreinlie@nwfdailynews.com
Local officials will bear more responsibility for overseeing new development projects after state lawmakers made sweeping changes to growth management laws during the last legislative session. Lawmakers loosened state regulation of builders and repealed a major piece of a 1985 growth management law that required them to help pay for roads, sewers, parks, schools and other infrastructure to support new development. The laws were put in place when Florida was growing rapidly to require builders to support local communities and protect sensitive environmental areas. Lawmakers who support the changes say they no longer are necessary in today’s economy and that they will remove duplicative government regulations. Now county and city officials will have more responsibility over regulating developers, and perhaps more responsibility to find funding for the infrastructure required to support new development. “The ball is really in local government’s court,” said Elliot Kampert, director of Okaloosa County’s Growth Management Department. Sen. Don Gaetz said with the changes builders no longer have to seek approval from both state and local governments, a process he sees as duplicative and unnecessary. “If businesses or individuals can satisfy their local community that growth and expansion are good, that ought to be enough,” Gaetz said. “My view is that the people in Walton and Okaloosa counties know better about what kind of growth and development they want than bureaucrats in Tallahassee.” Linda Young, director of Clean Water Action Network, said she is concerned local officials are pressured by developers to pursue growth regardless of infrastructure or environmental concerns, and now local officials no longer will be able to pass regulatory authority off to the state. “It’s pretty hard for anybody to get elected in the Panhandle if you’re not in with the builders,” Young said. “If you don’t have the support of the builders, you’re not going to get elected.” The new laws only require builders to help pay for potable water and solid waste, Kempert said. Funding for the remaining infrastructure needs will rest on local governments. Young said she is concerned that when the economy turns there will be a renewed pressure to develop property, and she fears officials will allow builders to avoid paying for infrastructure costs. “Then they’ll come back and ask for the money from taxpayers” when roads and sewer systems are overburdened, she said. Kempert said Okaloosa County commissioners have approved a growth plan that follows the prior state laws, and in some cases exceeds them. Commissioners now will have to decide if they want to repeal any parts of it, he said. “(The commissioners) are all there because they want to do what is right for the community,” Kempert said. “Hopefully, here in Okaloosa we’ll try to keep on going with what we have been doing.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


If you thought the Army’s 7th Special Forces was going to make a positive economic impact to the area, you haven’t seen anything yet. With the training of the Navy, Marines, Air Force pilots and maintainers being conducted here at Eglin AFB, along with approximately 12 other NATO countries and the Israelis, I can assure you the eyes of our military and the military from around the world are upon us and the economic impact will be far reaching for many years to come. STAY TUNED.

First F-35 expected this month
Mona Moore
2011-06-07 19:35:44
Officials at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics are days away from sending Eglin Air Force Base its first of 59 Joint Strike Fighters. “We are very close to delivering the first jet down there and I would say we believe it will happen in the month of June,” said Mike Rein, a spokesman for the company. The arrival of the first F-35 will start a string of deliveries from this month to September. Six jets are slated for delivery by the end of the fiscal year, Rein said. The base will receive the majority of the jets within the next three years. “While we’ll still be delivering aircraft to other bases, Eglin will be the primary focus for the coming years,” Rein said. Since Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates restructured the program last January, Rein said the deliveries are on schedule. The proposed delivery date when the Draft Executive Summary came out last September was four planes in 2010 and 26 planes in 2011. Instead, the first six aircraft will be bought this year and another six the following year. The rate of delivery will eventually increase until Eglin receives its 59 aircraft. Other than test aircraft, Eglin will be the first base to receive F-35s. The jets will be used to train F-35 pilots and maintainers at the 33rd Fighter Wing’s Joint Strike Fighter Training School. The first pilots who will train on the F-35 will be instructors. Some of them, including Marines, are already stationed at Eglin and are a part of the cadre tasked with forming the curriculum. Rein said Lockheed and Eglin plan to have events where the public can see the aircraft sometime this year. Officials at the Pentagon and Eglin said the base is working closely with Lockheed Martin and will announce the jet’s arrival when the date is firmly in place. The Joint Strike Fighter is the country’s first fifth-generation, multirole fighter. “This is going to give our armed forces the capability that they’ve never had before and it is going to be a tremendous leap in technology,” Rein said. “We’re quite excited about it.”


Well some more positive news for the Emerald Coast. The tourist have made it back in a big way and as long as we don’t have CNN or the WEATHER CHANNEL down here, we will be just fine. From informal talks with tourist, I have heard over and over again, “We thought the beaches were covered in oil based on the news coverage we saw”. They have since found out this was not the case. Moral of the story. As long as the news is a profit center, news will be sensationized to the point you can’t walk away from the TV or NEWSPAPER, and get your fix on Hurricane Disasters and other Disasters. Remember, when the weather was the weather, and news was the news. Now they are interest stories played over and over again. The one film footage which infuriated me was the oil soaked pelican in Louisiana being played over and over again in footage in Florida. Yes, you can guess what this did to people’s perspective of Florida during the BP Spill. Yes, BP Spill was bad and should be held accountable. But, the media played a bigger role in hurting our local economy with the slided news stories to keep you on the edge of your seats waiting for the next destroyed life. NEWS AND WEATHER SHOULD BE FACTUALLY: “See spot run”, not; “See spot run through forest with a hop in his step”. In closing, I believe the numbers represent this view and more and more have decided to not read the papers and watch the news and see for themselves.

The numbers are in: tourists have returned to the Emerald Coast
Dusty Ricketts
2011-06-07 17:18:30
Anyone who has driven on U.S. Highway 98 knows this, but official numbers now confirm it: The tourists have returned. Tourist development agencies in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties recently released their bed tax collection data for April, and all three counties posted big increases. Bed tax collections were up 8.79 percent in Okaloosa County, 21 percent in Santa Rosa County and 18.85 percent in Walton County. “We had a significant increase and are very excited about those positive numbers coming in and continue to hear good things about the season, the reservations and bookings being very solid,” said Dawn Moliterno, executive director of the South Walton Tourist Development Council. In addition to outpacing last April’s numbers, Mark Bellinger, executive director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, said April 2011 also outperformed April 2009 and 2008. “The Okaloosa County TDC and the majority of our hospitality businesses were extremely pleased with the increase in overall lodging occupancy,” Bellinger wrote in an email. “The average daily lodging rate and the revenue per available room increased in April of 2011. “Numerous stakeholders had their best Memorial Day weekend in years,” Bellinger added. Kate Wilkes, executive director of the Santa Rosa County TDC, agreed and said many lodging properties on Navarre Beach were completely booked on Memorial Day. “I was pleased. I really kind of expected it because March was up as well and I have heard nothing but people saying how good business was,” Wilkes said. Wilkes said she believed the marketing and promotions the Santa Rosa County TDC conducted with the grant money they received from BP following last year’s oil spill contributed to the large increases in bed tax revenues. She said events like last year’s sand sculpture contest, which will return this fall, helped show people the beaches were in good shape. Local tourism officials believe the strong tourism season will continue throughout the summer. “The TDC is optimistic about the summer peak season,” Bellinger wrote. “From what we have been learning, June and July seem to be ahead of pace, but the month of August needs help.”

Monday, June 6, 2011


Florida Governor Scott is not messing around when it comes to his promise to have a major overhaul of the Growth Management Department. He did not just overhauled it, he almost abolished it. What does this mean? It means, some of our local areas can move things much faster to make things happen. This same approach is being done at the Okaloosa County area to make way for the major growth planned in our area. The idea is, push decision making to the lowest level.

Growth management bill approved by Scott
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – June 3, 2011 – Following up on promises to streamline permitting and help get Florida back on track, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed into law a growth management bill that gives local governments more discretion in how their communities develop. Without comment, Scott signed the measure (HB 7207) that re-enacts portions of a previously approved growth management bill (SB 360) passed by lawmakers in 2009 that was until recently tied up in court. The law makes significant changes to growth management laws dating back decades. Scott’s decision came over the objections of environmental groups that are concerned the bill has the potential of damaging the environment by increasing urban sprawl and decreasing the incentives previously in place to encourage development in more densely populated urban areas. “This is the end of meaningful state involvement in local planning decisions in Florida,” said Janet Bowman, a lobbyist with the Florida chapter of the Nature Conservancy. The 349-page bill also reduces state oversight on development approvals, giving cities and counties more control over development decisions and whether to charge developers for roads, parks and schools. Backers say the state will continue to maintain oversight over projects that have significant regional impacts. “It’s going to mean a lot to local communities by giving them more authority to manage their own growth,” said Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and Senate sponsor. The signing was the latest blow to the environmental lobby since session ended. Last week, Scott approved a bill (SB 2142) that expanded the Legislature’s authority over water management district budgets. The bill allows the Legislative Budget Commission to veto items in water management district budgets, a power given only to the Governor under current law. Scott has yet to act on another proposal (HB 993) that shifts the burden for proving environmental harm in permit challenges to challenger, instead of the developer. Environmentalists have said the bill will weaken and nearly eliminate any ability to challenge permits, though supporters say it puts both parties on equal footing.

Source: News Service of Florida, Michael Peltier