Saturday, July 30, 2011


The future of the U.S. Military Fighter/Bomber program is bright and the future of Eglin is very bright, as well. If you have been following the progress of the program and the impact it will have on the future war capability of our nation, you couldn’t be any prouder. This program and the facilities are without question, the Best in the World and guess what. It is in our back yard. I have had the pleasure of attending a number of briefings, some public, some not, and it gives me chills what it will do to our area. All I can say is, as long as we need to defend our country this program is not going away any time soon. With Air Force, Navy, and Marine pilots basically flying the same plane in the future, as well as a number of Allied Forces, I can see this program going into other aspects of our national defense strategy, such is this plane being used to test future weapons. So I will have to say again. You can be in the game of developing this community into something the world will have its eye on, or you can watch on the sidelines.

US Fed NewsJuly 29, 2011
WASHINGTON, July 29 -- The U.S. Air Force issued the following press release:
The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office deputy director expressed confidence in the progress of the JSF program at an Air Force Association breakfast program here July 27. The upgrades and acquisitions, particularly the completion of the new Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., training facility, helps to advance the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II program, said Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore. "The F-35 is at the nexus of concurrency where we are building production aircraft, conducting developmental tests, and starting to build a cadre of future Joint Strike Fighter maintainers and pilots," Moore said. "We're approaching the point where we (are) flight testing and delivering aircraft simultaneously ... with two at Eglin and four more in the works ... three of which at Ft. Worth, (Texas) are finished and ready to go." He also discussed the sizeable training center located at Eglin AFB. "The 33rd Fighter Wing ... has amazing capability that's been put in place and a 250,000-square-foot pilot and maintenance training facility," Moore said, adding that its size equates to about six football fields. Moore described plans for Pilot Training Center-1, a future facility where the services and their international partners will be able to train and interact. The location of the center has not been determined. The general reported that F-35 flight science testing is making good progress at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The program is building mission avionics confidence with Block 1 software. Also, AF-6 and AF-7 conventional takeoff and landing aircraft are completing maturity flights to strengthen and verify the training syllabus that will be used at Eglin AFB. Building momentum and maintaining affordability will ensure the JSF program's longevity into 2035 and beyond, he said. "Flight test production roll outs are helping us build confidence in this plan and the weapons system," Moore said. "Now it's just a matter of getting into a good battle rhythm in terms of production rate." The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office is the Department of Defense's agency responsible for developing and acquiring the F-35A/B/C, the next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and many allied nations. The AFA Air Force breakfast program is a monthly series that provides a venue for senior Air Force and Department of Defense leaders to communicate directly with the public and press. Moderating Moore's question and answer session was retired Lt. Gen. Michael Dunn, AFA's current president and chief executive officer. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at
Copyright 2011 HT Media Ltd.All Rights Reserved
US Fed News

Platinum Real Estate Associates of RE/MAX Southern Realty to be Featured at Local Trade Show

Platinum Real Estate Associates of RE/MAX Southern Realty to be featured at the “One Stop Shop for Real Estate” Trade Show” in Fort Walton Beach on August 11, 2011. Some of the Real Estate to be showcased at the event by Platinum Real Estate Associates will be Woodbridge Homes at Majestic Oaks Vineyard, new Townhomes at Arbor Lake, a variety of homes in the local area, available residential lots throughout the area, a number of vacant parcels in NW Florida, and much more. Along with Platinum Real Estate Associates of RE/MAX Southern Realty, will be H&S Title and Escrow of Destin, one of the most trusted Title and Escrow Companies in the area.

One stop shop for real estate
FWB chamber, home builders and realtors group team up for trade show
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
FORT WALTON BEACH — Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions most people will make. An upcoming trade show is designed to make the process easier and less nerve-wracking by bringing together all the parties involved to one location. The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties and the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors have partnered to offer the One Stop Real Estate Shop trade show Aug. 11. “It’s the first time that these three organizations have come together for the community,” said Ted Corcoran, president of the chamber. “You have the builders, the realtors and you have all the rest of the businesses in theory with the chamber. “There’s huge excitement in bringing the business community together because that’s really what we have. With the three organizations’ memberships, there’s several thousands of businesses involved,” he added. “The three entities together will certainly be the largest business organization consortium in Okaloosa County for this one-time event.” The trade show is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. at the St. Mary Family Life Center at 110 Saint Mary Ave. in Fort Walton Beach. The event is free and open to the public. The trade show will feature banks, builders, real estate agents and others to answer questions from residential and commercial real estate buyers and sellers.
Alan Baggett, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association, said the show will offer one location where builders can have a booth to display what they are building and have available, banks can show off their foreclosed inventory and real estate agents can show what they have available. “It’s kind of a unique animal,” Baggett said. “I don’t know if this has really ever been done before.
“I’m very excited that three organizations that are so different have come together and are working so well together,” he added. “That’s been very evident.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Marine pilot brings second JSF to Eglin and new Commanding Officer of the Maintenance Group for JSF takes over command.

On July 21, 2011, Marine Maj. Joseph Bachmann, of the 33rd Operations Group lands the second F-35 at Eglin AFB with plans of six F-35’s being at Eglin AFB by the end of the year. Not only did the second F-35 arrive, the new Commander, Col Mark Fluter took over command of the Maintenance Group responsible of maintaining the F-35 on July 25, 2011. With the said, and most of the hundreds of million dollars F-35 training facility almost completed, it is quite obvious this program is alive and well and moving forward. As always, there is more POSITIVE news on the way, however it must be released in its due time.

Friday, July 22, 2011


As I noted before, Eglin AFB and the surrounding military installations are in the crosshairs of the military. Reasons are, the new F-35 Training Program, Special Operations Units of the Air Force and Army here now, and the strategic location of our military installations, which brings cost efficiencies in the military budget. In a recent briefing with the retiring Secretary of Defense, he noted with the climatic of reducing the military budget, two of the most important programs needed in our national defense, is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Special Operations. Guess what folks, what are the two most significant programs moved to our area. All I can say, you haven’t seen nothing yet.

Local installations in line for $85.5 million in military construction funds
Mona Moore
2011-07-21 19:36:31
The House and Senate have passed military construction bills that will send $85.5 million to local installations in the next fiscal year. “These projects will give a boost to the local economy and help our military immensely,” said Sen. Bill Nelson in an email to the Daily News. The Senate approved its funding bill Thursday. The House passed its legislation last month. The spending plan, which includes military construction funds for bases and airports throughout the country, still must receive final approval.“Now, both the House and Senate versions of the construction bill will head to conference to reconcile differences. Once that’s done, a final version will have to go back to each chamber for approval before heading to the President,” said Bryan Gulley, a member of Nelson’s staff. None of the differences include local projects. Because the House and Senate bills allocated the same amount of funds, the local spending is not up for discussion and will be included in the final bill that reaches President Barack Obama. Most of Eglin Air Force Base’s funds are for Special Operations Forces. The Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) cantonment will soon have its own medical clinic to save troops the 20-mile drive to Eglin’s base hospital. Congress allocated $11.6 million to provide lab, pharmacy, radiology, physical therapy, dental, behavioral health, audiology and optometry services at the clinic. The spending plan also includes $40 million to build two company operations facilities and finish a third building for the 7th Special Forces. Nearly $10 million will be directed to Air Force Special Operations forces at Hurlburt Field. About $3.2 million will pay for two “hush houses,” soundproof buildings to be used for maintenance work on Hurlburt Field’s C-130 fleet. The other $6.3 million will buy simulators for the Aviation Foreign Internal Defense squadron training. Whiting Field in Santa Rosa County is set to receive more than $24 million. The biggest chunk, $20.6 million, will pay for an Explosive Ordinance Device instruction facility. The rest will fund a 600-gallon-per-minute, two-position unloading station to replace the current 50-year-old facility, which “is in poor condition and lacks impervious spill containment pavements, adequate fuel filtration and safety features,” according to a brief from Nelson’s staff.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Folks, this phenomenon is not going to stop anytime soon. Many of the newly assigned personnel are having to wait for homes to be built, as the national and local home builders are working diligently to keep pace. In many cases, the local builder’s have said they could be building more because of pre-sales, however the lenders are unable or unwilling to fund. I can assure you, there are many buyers looking for quality NEW homes in quality neighborhoods and are willing to wait because of their circumstances allows it. Oh yea, during this time period, the military housing inventory was drastically reduced based on NEW criteria in supply homes on base. SUPPLY AND DEMAND. Can’t explain it anymore.

I warned everyone about this phenomenon, and it is not going to stop anytime soon. There is many more factors in the planning which will fuel the fire. If you have any questions or thoughts, give me a call.

Real estate market mixed
Sales in Okaloosa and Walton increased in June over last year while Santa Rosa sagged
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
The roller coaster that is the local real estate market had more ups and downs in June, but overall local real estate agents are optimistic about the numbers and the future. Metro Market Trends released its June sales reports for Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties earlier this week. The number of single-family homes and condominiums sold in Okaloosa and Walton counties increased compared to sales from June 2010, but Santa Rosa County lagged behind sales from a year ago. “It’s exactly what I’ve kept saying, it’s going to be a great year,” said Jean Floyd, a local Realtor and president of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. “We’ve got so much happening in our area economically. With the 7th Special Forces and the F-35, it’s hard to say anything bad about what the housing market hopefully is going to be doing over the next two to three years. I feel like we’re in a recovery mode, still.” In Okaloosa County, 352 single-family homes were sold in June, an increase of almost 17 percent compared to the previous year. Condominium and townhome sales were up more than 54 percent. Walton County had an even larger increase, with single-family home sales jumping more 57 percent and condominium and townhome sales improving more than 109 percent. “I think people are getting more confident and realizing that we are such an affordable resort community when you compare to South Florida,” Floyd said. “We’re still a very affordable resort community.” Single-family home sales and condominium/townhome sales were both down about 8 percent in June in Santa Rosa County. Angela Campbell, association executive for the Navarre Area Board of Realtors, said Navarre’s numbers often are skewed by sales in the north end of the county. “All in all it’s still a promising market,” Campbell wrote in an email. “Agents are reporting heightened activity and traffic to our website, www.  , is increasing exponentially.” However, real estate values continued to fluctuate in June.
According to Metro Market Trends, in Okaloosa and Walton counties the average sale price for condominiums and townhomes increased by 25 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. At the same time, the average price for a single-family home dropped 2.6 percent The average price of each home sold in Okaloosa County in June was $211,952, a slight decrease from June 2010, when the average home sold for $217,558. Condo/townhome values were up 25 percent, from $191,457 in 2010 to $240,956 last month. In Walton County, the average single-family home sold for $397,694, a 15 percent decrease from 2010, when the average home sold for $468,392. Condo/ townhome values in Walton County were $295,324, a 6.5 percent increase from 2010. That trend was reversed in Santa Rosa County, where the average single-family home price increased 4.2 percent and the average condominium/townhome sold for 17 percent less. The average single-family home sold for $186,420 in June and the average price for a condo/ townhome was $169,318.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The next step in making Crestview Florida into a College town, as well, is on the its way, with the construction of the school and enrollment for the 2012 underway. This is the first step planned for FAMU and some of the other Universities in town, who are working on their expansions in the Crestview market. It only made sense, with the massive growth of the military and aerospace industries, and the location on the I-10 corridor, Crestview would be a target for initiatives, such as this one and others.

Work on FAMU pharmacy school ready to begin
Classes are scheduled to start in Crestview in fall 2012
Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW — The chain link construction fence along the Woodruff Avenue side of the Alatex building has generated excitement among city officials eager to see work begin to transform the landmark into a new pharmacy school for Florida A&M University. After several false starts, including a scare earlier this year when it was thought Gov. Rick Scott might veto funding for the construction, work is expected to begin within two weeks. “We have submitted building plans to the city and expect to pull permits this week in order to begin brickwork immediately,” said Tola Thompson, FAMU’s director of government relations. “We have received building plans,” Crestview Administrative Services Director Mike Wing confirmed. “We’re in the process of reviewing them.” Thompson said FAMU has awarded the contract for the project’s construction manager. “They will begin advertising for subcontractors in Crestview news outlets as early as next week,” he said. Thompson said construction on the FAMU Crestview Education Center, as it is properly called, will take 10 to 11 months. Classes are expected to start in the fall of 2012. “We’re happy to hear the news that they’re getting ready to start,” Wing said. “We look forward to working with them and intend to offer any assistance the city can.”

Sunday, July 17, 2011


As Paul Harvey would say, “and the rest of the story”.

A new era begins: F-35 arrives
A new chapter in Eglin Air Force Base aviation history began when the first F-35 Lightning II arrived here on July 14. The F-35 has been part of our local conversation for some years now as our community prepared to host the first-ever fifth generation, multirole fighter in the history of U.S. and international defense. Late 2009 was the last time a 33rd Fighter Wing aircraft, piloted by Wing Commander Col. “Sledge” Harmer, flew over the Emerald Coast. As a former pilot with the wing, I watched with pride as one chapter of our decorated history ended and another one began. On Oct. 1, 2009, the 33rd Fighter Wing became an Air Education and Training Command Wing and preparations began for the arrival of the first F-35 aircraft. Normally after a fighter wing stops flying, the surrounding communities experience a negative impact on the local economy. That will not be the case at Eglin. Because the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission decided to base the 7th Special Forces Group and first-ever DoD F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin, the Emerald Coast will see a positive economic impact just when we need it most. On a larger scale, within the state of Florida, there will be 8,700 people who will work on the F-35 program valued at approximately $800 million. Economically speaking, in the years to follow, the state will see consistent steady job growth related to this program. The 33rd Fighter Wing team has been working extremely hard over the past year and a half preparing for the F-35 training fleet. While the jet was assembled, tested and prepared for delivery at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas-based factory, the fighter pilot and maintainer training syllabus, courseware, academics and equipment were readied at the Integrated Training Center. The next generation of U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and international fighter pilots and maintainers are now in for a treat. Gone are the days of chalkboards, textbooks and poster boards. The Integrated Training Center is a stateof-the-art facility with the most advanced training equipment on the market today. So here’s the plan. The first F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft, better known as the CTOL variant for the U.S. Air Force, has arrived. As many as six more jets will be delivered to Eglin in the near term. Now that planes are here, the men and women of the 33rd Fighter Wing will take measured, deliberate actions to prepare the aircraft academics, instructors, courseware and simulators as they welcome their first class of students later this fall. As locals, we’re no stranger to, and have an astute appreciation for, highly capable aircraft that can perform at unparalleled levels. Tyndall Air Force Base received the first fifth-generation fighter back in 2003 — the F-22 Raptor — and now it’s our turn to receive the most advanced multirole fifth-generation fighter in the world. We have a front-row seat to watch the next family of fighter aircraft take to the skies to defend America’s ideals of freedom, democracy and equality for the next 50 years. The entire F-35 team greatly appreciates all of the tremendous support we have received from the community during our time of preparation, and I pledge our dedicated efforts to make the F-35 Lightning II training program a source of pride for the Emerald Coast.

Story written by JR McDonald is the Lockheed Martin vice president for Corporate Domestic Business Development. He is a Choctawhatchee High School graduate and a former F-15 pilot with the 33rd Fighter Wing.


Colonel Arthur Tomassetti gives briefing on the latest with the F-35 Training Program to the Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA) lead by Ken Wright on July 6, 2011 at the Eglin Club, formerly the Eglin Officer’s Club. Colonel Tomassetti is the Vice Commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Eglin AFB, FL. The 33rd Fighter Wing serves as the home to the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Training Center and provides pilot and maintenance training for the Navy, Marine, and Air Force, and approximately nine international partners. From this briefing, and the arrival of the first F-35 at Eglin AFB with many more showing up in the next couple of months, this program is alive and well and is in position to make a more significant impact on our area than the Army’s Special Forces. Remember, this plane is to remain in the military’s inventory for the next 50 years. That is a lot of training of pilots from the Air Forces, Navy, Marines, and all of the other cooperating countries in the years to come.


Vision Airlines seems to love our area. So much, they are seriously looking to move their maintenance facility to the Northwest Florida Regional Airport (Fort Walton Beach). As you know with this type of decision, more jobs, more houses, more everything needed for this group and their support casts of subcontractors. As noted below, and what we have been seeing in our area, they have made a significant impact on tourist and military travelers coming and going from our area. Stay tuned, I believe you will like what is on the horizon. The question now is. Are you in the game or watching from the sidelines?

A business with FORESIGHT
From flights over the Grand Canyon to commercial service to the Caribbean, Vision Airlines has plotted a strategic course
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
Vision Airlines is the newest lowcost air carrier at Northwest Florida Regional Airport, offering direct flights to 15 cities and several others by connections. Although it does not have the name recognition of Delta, United or Southwest, Vision is not a flyby-night carrier that came out of nowhere. In almost 20 years, Vision Airlines has grown from a tour business that exclusively flew over the Grand Canyon with a single nine-seat prop plane and five employees to a business with more than 30 planes in its scheduled commercial flight, charter, tour and government contract business and more than 650 employees. The number of passengers served has jumped from about 30,000 in 1994 to more than 1 million last year. “While the scheduled business is certainly a very key component of the growth of our company, we still have the other revenue streams,” said David Meers, Vision’s chief operating officer. “We have our Grand Canyon tour business, we have our government services business, we have our charter business and then our scheduled business. We really diversify our revenue streams four different ways. “We’re just looking forward to building a long-term relationship with each of the communities that we serve,” he added. “We’ve put a lot of focus and energy into the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area and we plan to be there for a long time to come.” Eight months after starting service locally, Vision has helped Northwest Florida Regional break passenger records the past three months and has driven the need for the airport to go forward with building a new restaurant. On Thursday, Vision served its 100,000th passenger at Northwest Florida Regional. “(The Destin area) is the second most popular drive-in market in the state of Florida and part of that I believe is there’s never been a great air alternative to get there,” Meers said. “Historically, you’ve had to fly through congested hub airports or pay extremely high airfares and have long layovers. It was a situation where we saw an opportunity.”
First flight
Vision Airlines was started in 1994 by brothers Bill and Steve Acor as a tour company flying over the Grand Canyon. Initially, Vision took on passengers who could not get on flights offered by other tour operators. The small business grew rapidly. “One airplane became two airplanes, which became four airplanes, which became eight airplanes,” Meers said. “Once we got to critical mass with about eight airplanes, the company started marketing itself directly to the consumers and the tour operators that had folks buying Grand Canyon tours. Eventually, it grew into about 20 airplanes.” With the Grand Canyon tours doing big business, Vision transitioned away from its nine-seat, twin engine piston planes to 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft, which not only held more people but also flew faster and smoother. In the late ’90s the company expanded again, operating a Boeing 737 as a charter business that catered to musicians on tour, sports teams and politicians. Its clients have included Jimmy Buffett and Paul McCartney. About the same time Vision’s leaders started looking at becoming a commercial airline with scheduled flights such as Delta, United and other airlines.
Darkest day
On Sept. 11, 2001, four planes hijacked by terrorists changed aviation forever and almost closed Vision Airlines. “We lost almost 80 percent of our business overnight because most of the folks taking the Grand Canyon tours were foreign travelers,” Meers said. “After 9/11, the visas available to foreign travelers dried up.” After the attacks, a 737 airplane became a possible weapon of mass destruction and regulations on companies operating those aircraft became very strict. Vision’s workforce, which had been in the hundreds right before 9/11, shrank to a low of 47 after the terrorist attacks. But business slowly returned and eventually Vision was able to sign contracts for its 737 and 767 charter business with the Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi, Miss., college sports teams and even the U.S. Immigration and Customs agency for trips to Cuba on a regular basis. “As the company evolved, we had very steady charter work, our Grand Canyon tour business rebounded and came back and we had our programs with the U.S. government,” Meers said. “It felt like it was important not to always depend on someone else selling a charter for us, so we made the decision to go into the scheduled airline business on a paced, relatively slow growth basis.” In late 2009, representatives from Vision Airlines had their first face-to-face meetings with Greg Donovan and Mike Stenson with Northwest Florida Regional at a conference of the Airports Council International in San Diego. “With business development with airports, I firmly believe that growing something versus trying to shift a product from one side to the east or west of our community is the way to go,” said Donovan, Okaloosa County’s airports director. On Dec. 13 of last year, Vision started its first scheduled commercial route to and from Louisville, Ky., and Atlanta. Three days later it started limited service from Northwest Florida Regional to Miami and Niagara Falls, N.Y. Since then, Vision has expanded its service to many more cities, although not all destinations have worked out. Niagara Falls was discontinued after the close of the winter snowbird season, and the Miami flights were canceled and replaced with Fort Lauderdale. Today is the final day for flights to Huntsville, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., Savannah, Ga., and Columbia and Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C. “I think Vision in particular, it’s a very dynamic industry and they’re going to fly routes that make the most money for them and that’s what good businesses do,” Donovan said. “They dial in what works and they refine their product to optimal profitability. I think as a community we’re going to be the beneficiaries of that business model.”
Vision of the future
Vision Airlines currently flies from Orlando to Brazil with its charter business. The airline’s charter business is growing as it was recently signed by Fun Jet Vacations to start flying to Cancun, Montego Bay nd Punta Cana from St. Louis starting in December. On its scheduled flights, Meers said Vision is on track to have more than 500,000 enplanements this year. Vision will begin service to Grand Bahama International Airport on Nov. 14. While the airline will not offer direct service to the Bahamas from Northwest Florida Regional, locals can fly to Fort Lauderdale and on to the Bahamas without changing planes. Vision also is looking at ways to improve its service out of Northwest Florida Regional. The airline is developing its winter schedule and is considering bringing back the Niagara Falls flights. “It was marginally successful,” Meers said of the previous Niagara Falls flights. “It was horrible in the beginning and it got better in the end. “Right now we are still evaluating Niagara, we haven’t made a decision,” he added. Regardless of what happens with the Niagara Falls flights, Meers said the airline is looking at new markets for Northwest Florida Regional. He said new destinations likely would not start until next spring. While no decisions have been made, he mentioned Cincinnati as a possible destination. “We’re going to continue to evaluate new cities and new opportunities and we’ll continue to evaluate the current markets we’re in to make sure we don’t stub our toe somewhere, and we have to make sure all of our routes stay viable,” Meers said. “We will add flights probably to other cities in Florida. “We’ve invested a significant amount of money to build our brand there and we wouldn’t have done that if we didn’t intend to be there long term,” he added. Vision also is likely to move more of its business operations to Florida and possibly Northwest Florida Regional. Vision has its fleet maintenance facility in Louisville, but it is not large enough to house the airline’s 737s or 767s without some fancy maneuvering. Meers said the airline has had preliminary discussions about housing the facility at Northwest Florida Regional. Vision also has looked at St. Petersburg and Orlando, and Meers said there are a few other places it wants to consider. The fleet maintenance facility would bring 80 to 100 jobs to the area immediately and much more work through contract employees, Meers said. A decision on where they plan to move the facility is expected in the next 90 to 120 days. “We are 99 percent sure the facility will be in the state of Florida,” Meers said. “The climate there with the governor is great. It’s open for business and as a result we want to support that and be a part of that.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Move over 7th Special Forces Group. The F-35 Training Program is alive and well. With the first of 59 F-35’s arriving today, this program begins to take shape and thousands will begin arriving. Oh yea, did I tell you we are not ready to house them yet. Having the opportunity of showing some of these new 7th Special Forces Group and F-35 Training personnel homes, it is quite obvious from their comments, we don’t have what they are looking for or we just don’t have it available yet. Okay builders, step it up, meet the need. Oh yea, the banks aren’t lending you any money. Any suggestions anyone in meeting the needs of our newly assigned military personnel to the area. NO RENTALS, NO HOMES, HOW DO YOU FIX THIS MESS?

First F-35 arrives at Eglin Air Force Base
Angel McCurdy
2011-07-14 15:21:25

EGLIN AFB — The first F-35 landed at the 33rd Fighter Wing on Thursday to applause and cheers.The first production model of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter arrived at Eglin Air Force Base about 1:15 p.m. from Lockheed Martin’s production plant in Fort Worth, Texas. “This is an extremely exciting day for us. We’ve been waiting two years for this day,” Col. Andrew Toth, commander of the 33rd, said as he waited for the jet to arrive. “Having it here is just outstanding. There are a lot of smiles out here today.” The F-35 was the first of 59 expected to come to Eglin eventually. Five other F-35s are due by the end of year. Toth said maintenance training will begin immediately and flight training is expected to begin this fall. Members of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will be trained to fly the plane. “Over the next couple years we will be able to conduct a fully integrated program,” he said. “It will be the first of its kind.” The Joint Strike Fighter is the country’s first fifth-generation, multi-role fighter. It is equipped with the latest technology and will have capabilities that exceed aircraft at Eglin now. It is being built in multiple configurations to suit the combat missions of the American military branches as well as allies who are participating in the F-35 project. As the jet landed, more than 100 visitors in the stands near the 33rd’s hangar stood with cameras ready to get a look at the plane that sounded like a large vacuum cleaner. In between the screams and whistles, military men and women shouted, “One down, 58 to go.” Congressman Jeff Miller was not on hand for the arrival but added his voice to the celebration. “Today is an exciting day for Northwest Florida,” he said in an email. “We are very proud to welcome the nation’s premier strike fighter to its new home on the Emerald Coast. I look forward to the arrival of the rest of the aircraft in the coming months.” Lt. Col. J.B. Wilbourne flew an F-16 that escorted the F-35 to Eglin. “This has been the best week ever,” Wilbourne said. “The F-35 will ensure air dominance for the United States for the next 30 years, and today takes the first step toward that. “Today makes everything we’ve done a reality,” he added. “I’m out on cloud nine.” The Joint Strike Fighter project has faced numerous delays since it was first announced. When the Pentagon signed the contract with Lockheed Martin to build the F-35 in 2001, the first jets were expected to be delivered to the Department of Defense in 2008. However, by March 2008 only one F-35 had been completed and was undergoing test flights. The F-35 made its first appearance at Eglin in April 2009, when one of the jets was flown in for a ceremony for military and local officials. The jet remained at Eglin for a few days for test flights.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Just another reason, why businesses and others are flocking to the panhandle of Florida. Quality of Life. PERIOD!!!!!

Local school districts earn top honors again
The A grades were based on FCAT scores from elementary and middle school students
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4440

The grades are in, and the news is good. Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton County school districts all received A grades based on elementary and middle school students’ performances on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. School grades were developed in 1999 to help the public gauge how well schools were performing. Each school’s grade is based on how many students earn a proficient score on the FCAT. In Okaloosa County, 23 schools received a grade of A and two received a B. Walton County schools received nine A’s and one B. Of the 20 middle and elementary schools in Santa Rosa County, one received a B and the rest earned A’s. “My first impression was it’s working,” said Walton County Superintendent of Schools Carlene Anderson. “All the strategies … the performance appraisals, all the hard work is making a difference in how students achieve.” Each school district improved from last year. Okaloosa had five schools with B’s last year while Walton County had a B school and a C school. Santa Rosa had four B schools and one C school. This year was especially exciting for Maude Sanders Elementary School, which had not earned an A in a number of years. “They did some very specific skills strategies to make that happen. It didn’t just happen,” Anderson said. “They specifically taught to each student’s needs and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to teach each child.” For educators, the grades are even more impressive because not only was the FCAT more difficult this year, the scoring method also changed. For example, in order for students to be considered proficient in writing, they needed to earn a 4.0 score instead of a 3.5. “I think that one of the best accolades that you can give our district, and the surrounding districts, is that our teachers and our students did this in a year that the rigor was increased, the bar was raised,” said Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts. Tibbetts and Santa Rosa County Superintendent of Schools Tim Wyrosdick credited teachers, parents and community support with helping ensure the students’ success. “The grade report today demonstrates the power of students, teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and partners in education working together with excellence as a benchmark,” Wyrosdick said. Grades statewide remained fairly stable. About 58 percent of the schools earned an A grade, which is up by about 82 schools from last year, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Education. High school grades will be released later this year.