Friday, June 8, 2012


Well it is official now. Army 7th Special Forces Command is growing. Why wouldn’t it? The newest Army Base in decades with the most advance technology offered, more land to grow on, and more importantly, the quality of life for service men and women is one of the highest in the country here. I can assure you in today’s military, quality of life issues are a must to help reduce costs for retention and recruiting and provide this country the best of the best in protecting it. As mentioned before, and I will continue to mention, Eglin AFB and the surrounding Bases are on the mind of many folks in the Defense industry to move missions to our area in order to find economies of scale.

Special Forces Group to add 400 soldiers


2012-06-07 15:47:31

EGLIN AFB — The Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) will stand up a fourth combat battalion this fall, which will bring the total number of soldiers at the cantonment to 2,200. Lt. Col. Martin Schmidt will lead the new battalion, which will have 400 soldiers. About 100 of them al-ready have arrived, according to public affairs officer Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Brownlee. “The people who are already here, we are getting equipment in all the time, they’re out training and gearing up for the new battalion,” Brownlee said. With the addition, there will be four combat battalions and one general support battalion at the cantonment on Eglin Air Force Base’s reservation south of Crestview. News of the arrival was announced at Tuesday’s Okaloosa County Commission meeting. Commissioner Dave Parisot was visiting a new memorial at the cantonment when he heard that the new battalion was arriving, and made the announcement at the meeting. “This population increase should be good news to many of our Realtors and local businesses,” he said. Although Parisot announced additional construction at the cantonment, Brownlee said facilities are ready and waiting. “They were a planned battalion,” Brownlee said. Some of the new soldiers will come from Fort Bragg, N.C., while others will arrive from across the country, he said. The exact number of dependents who will come is not known, but Brownlee said most of the soldiers have families.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


The cat is out of the bag. More military missions have their sites on the Largest Air Force Base in the World (Eglin AFB) and their surrounding Bases (Hurlburt AFB and Duke Field), which is approximately 724 square miles of land area. This plan and others in the works to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness in the military will continue to make Okaloosa County an area for decision maker to give it serious consideration. As I have noted many times before, Eglin AFB and the surrounding bases not only have opportunities of efficiencies in Defense cost, it also is a strategic location for the Defense of our Country.

Eglin, Hurlburt vie for new tanker planes


2012-06-02 21:18:20

Military bases across the nation are competing to host the latest generation of Air Force tanker planes, which could be accompanied by an increase in jobs and a potential boom to local economies. Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base are among nearly 60 installations being considered as main operating bases for the KC-46A, the latest aerial refueling and transport plane. It will replace the KC-135. Three bases will be selected initially, and ultimately 10 will receive the aircraft. The influx of jobs at each base will depend on the number of airmen stationed there who are able to fill the roles, according to Ann Stefanek with the Secretary of the Air Force public affairs. The Air Force has extensive criteria for the bases to meet, including ample runway, hangar and ramp space. Eglin and Hurlburt are competing to become one of the formal training units and first main operating bases, which are to be led by active-duty units. The first bases are slated to begin receiving the tankers in 2016. The second main operating bases, led by an Air National Guard unit, will begin receiving the planes in 2018. Other Florida bases in running for the new tankers include MacDill, Patrick, Tyndall, and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Air Force hopes to select the bases by December


It looks like things are doing very well for the new Gulfarium Adventure Park. “Expansion” is a good word, when it comes to growth opportunities for the Fort Walton Beach area. I expect you should be hearing some more good news on the growth of the Fort Walton Beach area. If growing traffic is an indication, beach worshippers have found that Okaloosa Island with their miles of unspoiled beaches to be a place to vacation.

Gulfarium plans expansion

Adventure park will add ropes courses, zip lines



OKALOOSA ISLAND — The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is making way for an elaborate, multilevel network of zip lines and ropes courses. Under a partnership with Florida Resort Recreation, the Gulfarium will develop the complex on about one acre of vacant land northwest of the park. “We’re excited about the partnership and offering different services,” Gulfarium general manager Patrick Berry said. “People will be getting out of their hotels and enjoying our beautiful weather.” Berry said the new complex will be suited for families and anyone who enjoys the outdoors and “good exercise.” Gulfarium’s expansion will feature more than 800 feet of ropes courses and zip lines. It also will include bungee jumps, climbing towers and chipping and putting greens. “We’re basically taking two large ropes courses and connecting them,” said Russ Scott, who owns Florida Resort Recreation. Scott’s company currently operates Baytowne Adventure Zone at The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. He said the Gulfarium complex has been in the works for more than a year. “It’s such a great attraction,” Scott said. “What we do — it’s something that needs to complement something else.” Scott said he considered placing the adventure course across the street from the Gulfarium on 2.8 acres of county property that’s up for lease but decided he would rather be on the south side of U.S. Highway 98. A proposal for the county land also includes a park with ropes courses called Wild Willy’s Adventure Island. County commissioners have yet to approve the project, which is backed by the Destin-based Dominion Capital. Berry said the Gulfarium’s expansion will have a separate entrance, separate admission fees and possibly a separate name. The area also might feature an eatery or concession stand. He said construction could begin this fall. The target opening date for the zip line and ropes course complex is March 1, 2013. The Gulfarium recently reopened after more than five months of renovations, including new exhibits and paint and signage throughout the complex. More cosmetic upgrades are scheduled for the fall.