BBB Study: Online Romance Scams Coaxing Millions out of Unsuspecting Victims
A study released by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reveals an estimated 1 million Americans have been victimized in romance fraud scams with losses nearing $1 billion over the last three years. BBB warns those who use dating websites to be wary of scammers who prey on unsuspecting victims. The study – “Online Romance Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study on How Scammers Use Impersonation, Blackmail and Trickery to Steal from Unsuspecting Daters” – says the scheme can take a number of months to play out as the scammer gains the victim’s trust. For more information and tips on how to spot and avoid the scam, please visit https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/17012-bbb-tip-romance-scams.
Love Was in the Air at LuLu’s
This one is for all the lovebirds out there. About 100 couples officially renewed their wedding vows at the 3rd Annual Tropical Re-Union at LuLu’s. The complimentary ceremony was performed by officiant Jane Carver. This year, due to inclement weather, the festivities took place inside the restaurant. There were complimentary champagne toasts, wedding cake and flowers for the brides, as well as Certificates of Reunion for each couple.
Keller Williams Realty Emerald Coast named Top 50 Brokerage in State
Keller Williams Realty Emerald Coast (KWEC) hosted its annual awards celebration in February. The event celebrated the success from 2017 for the entire brokerage, spanning the seven KWEC offices representing more than 350 agents in Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Destin and 30A. Here are the highlights:
- KWEC had officially been ranked in the top 50 brokerages in the entire state of Florida and also in the top 10% out of 750 Keller Williams brokerages internationally.
- For the third year in a row, Cindy Cole, was named Top Associate of the Year with over $30 million in closed sales in 2017 alone.
- The Top Listing Associate went to Johnette Acree for obtaining the largest number of listings.
- The Emerald Coast Home Team, made up of agents Diane Tharp & Amy Signor (seen here), earned the Top Sales Team award, along with John Moran’s At the Beach Group being named the Top Sales Group.
- Rookie of the Year went to Tiffany Watts, who closed a sales volume of almost $5 million during her first year in the real estate profession.
- Shari Gross from the Destin team received the KW Humanitarian award for her consistent efforts to help others in the community, with many of her contributions remaining completely anonymous.
- Fort Walton Beach agent Glenda Janczewski was named the KW Cultural Icon, exhibiting the true company culture that Keller Williams strives to achieve.
- Agent Dawn Burt from the Navarre office was given the KW Cares award, for her significant donation to the national KW Cares fund, which provides financial assistance to KW agents all over the world in times of need, such as major natural disasters, significant illnesses and more.
- Other fun awards were given including the “Tide Award” for squeaky clean contracts, Voicemail Queen, the Energizer Bunny award and more.
Publix Helps Children in Crisis Kids
The area Publix stores continued their great support to the community and Children in Crisis (CIC) by presenting a $7,000 donation to help feed, clothe and care for the children living at the CIC Neighborhood. Also, more than 50 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and helped with yard maintenance and a whole list of jobs on the “CIC To Do List.” Seen here, Jackie Gouge (center), Publix District Manager, and the area Publix Team present a $7,000 donation to Ken Hair (left center), CIC President and CEO; Dr. Bo Arnold, CIC Chairman of the Board of Directors; and other Board members and staff.
Sacred Heart Hospital Takes Surgery Beyond the Limits of the Human Hand
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast has acquired the newest state-of-the-art da Vinci Xi® Surgical System, one of the most precise and least invasive surgical treatments available. Thanks to the newly advanced, robotic, computer and optical technologies, many patients at Sacred Heart will experience faster recovery with shorter hospital stay, smaller incisions with less discomfort and reduced need for pain medicine.
The new robot will be used at Sacred Heart in the following specialty areas:
• General surgery
(such as gallbladder, hernia repair, gastroenterology, colon procedures)
• Gynecologic surgery
• Future Urologic surgery
The Arc of the Emerald Coast Begins Construction
The Arc of the Emerald Coast is excited to announce the groundbreaking of a new, community residential home in Crestview, thanks to a grant from the Florida Housing Authority. The completely handicapped accessible house is expected to be completed by late June and will be the permanent home to clients of the Arc EC. The contract to build was won by J. Tashik Construction Corporation of Niceville.
Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Donates $3,000 to ECCAC
The Village of Baytowne Wharf donated $3,000 to the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC). The money was generated during its Beer Festival event. Seen here are Julie Hurst, Chelsea Fox, and Kim Henderson from ECCAC and Julie Stuckey, Leighann Elliott, and Alan Meyers from Baytowne Wharf. Providing services and emotional support to child victims experiencing abuse, abandonment or neglect is the 24/7 job of the multi-disciplinary team of staff and volunteers at the ECCAC with locations in Walton and Okaloosa Counties. The organization raises 60% of its annual budget for the two centers through special events, donations, and community-sponsored fundraisers. The remainder of monies are generated through grant requests and governmental funding.
7th David Seering Concert Raises Funds for CIC Kids
Accomplished musician and performer David Seering accompanied by pianist Bobby Van Deusen and vocalist Amanda Holmes, delighted a near sell-out crowd raising $24,000 for Children in Crisis (CIC). This pushed the seven-year total to more than $140,000 for the at-risk children living at the CIC Neighborhood. The concert was held at the Village Baptist Church in Destin and all proceeds were donated to help feed, clothe and care for the foster children at CIC. Seen here, Seering (right) and Holmes (center) present the check to Ken Hair, CIC President and CEO.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Captain Joins ECCAC
Capt. Eric Aden, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, recently joined the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center’s (ECCAC) board of directors. Born on Eglin AFB, Aden is the son of an aerospace engineer, pilot and teacher. He has lived in Shalimar his entire life with the exception of attending Florida State University, where he graduated with a BS in Criminology. Joining the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office in 1995, Aden has served as a patrolman, resource officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and now as captain. Part of his duties include overseeing the Posse, part-time Reserve Deputies, the Watch/Patrol Commanders, and the three airports in Okaloosa County. Also a member of the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force from 2010 to 2015, Aden is actively involved in the community. He was the 2014 United Way volunteer of the year, has assisted in raising funds for United Way, and has served on the boards of the local Kiwanis Club and Republican Club.
Sunset Shoes helps the kids at Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center
The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) received a $500 donation from Sunset Shoes anniversary event. Seen here (left to right) are Kim Henderson, ECCAC; Eddy Hardy, Sunset Shoes owner; and Danny Kleiner, Sunset Shoes employee. Providing services and emotional support to child victims experiencing abuse, abandonment or neglect is the 24/7 job of the multi-disciplinary team of staff and volunteers at the ECCAC with locations in Walton and Okaloosa Counties. The organization raises 60% of its annual budget for the two centers through special events, donations, and community-sponsored fundraisers. The remainder of monies are generated through grant requests and governmental funding.
The Premier Property Group Announce the Release of the Newest Building at The Brownstones in Kelly Plantation
Looking to capitalize on the successful sellout of the first three buildings, Premier Property Group announces the release of the newest building at The Brownstones, a luxury townhome project within the gates of Kelly Plantation. Southern American Homes recently broke ground on the new building, which contains four townhome residences and will be completed this summer. The latest offering has already generated a substantial amount of interest from potential buyers looking for a luxurious, maintenance-free home that offers a true “lock & leave” lifestyle, as well as convenient access to all of Kelly Plantation’s amenities. Once complete, The Brownstones at Kelly Plantation will have a total of 23 unique “Florida Brownstones” designed to take full advantage of the bay, golf course, and nature preserve views offered by this final development site within Kelly Plantation.
Shelter House’s Second Annual Palate & Palette Raises Almost $34,000
More than 150 guests attended Shelter House’s 2nd Annual Palate & Palette Five-Course Wine Dinner and Live Painting in January, at the Legendary Marine showroom in Destin. All proceeds for this event went directly to Shelter House, the state-certified domestic and sexual violence center that has been serving both Okaloosa and Walton counties for over 30 years. Palate & Palette, which raised almost $17,000 in 2017, raised upwards of $33,800 this year, making this Shelter House’s most profitable fundraising event since the organization’s inception in 1985. The evening featured a live painting and a performance by Jon Moody, an award-winning multi-medium artist from New Orleans. Palate & Palette featured the area’s top chefs, each presenting one course while Moody’s painting came to life before their eyes.
Florida SBDC Network Announces New Cybersecurity Service
The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, the state's principal provider of business assistance, is pleased to announce a new cybersecurity service available to small businesses. Cyberattacks against small businesses are on the rise. According to Symantec's 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, 43 percent of all attacks worldwide were targeted at small businesses with less than 250 employees. The Florida SBDC Network's Byte-Size Small Business Cybersecurity Program provides small business owners with a sound understanding of the risks of cyberattacks, common cybersecurity threats, and strategies to safeguard their business.
Sal Salaz Releases New CD
Sal Salaz, owner, and percussionist of Brezzin Entertainment, recently released his new CD entitled "Capture the Moment" Latin Jazz. It contains a mix of eight smooth and up-tempo classic songs for your listening and dancing pleasure. The CD is also available for review and purchase on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes. Interested music enthusiasts can also arrange and purchase the CD by contacting Sal Salaz, at (850) 499-1822 for quick delivery. Visit www.salsalaz.com to learn more about Salaz and hear a sample from the CD.
Trustmark Presents Campaign Check to United Way
Trustmark Bank ranks #6 in United Way Workplace Giving Campaigns in 2017. Trustmark Bank President Jonathan Ochs and his staff recently presented a check representing employee pledges and company match dollars in the amount of $14,721.96 to United Way CEO Rick Owen. Trustmark Bank knows what it means to LIVE UNITED. Each year, Trustmark Bank supports the United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties through volunteerism, advocacy and participation in the Workplace Giving Campaign. Trustmark employees volunteer their time and talents on the Board of Directors and various committees, as well as giving through payroll deduction. Their investment addresses critical needs in our community and funds programs that produce measurable outcomes and results.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Announces New “Fish House” Inspired Dinner Menu at Sandcastle’s Restaurant and Lounge
The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has announced a new “fish house” dinner menu at Sandcastle’s Restaurant and Lounge. Developed by executive chef Dan Vargo, the menu includes new seafood starters, such as Coastal Crab Cakes, Crispy Gulf Shrimp, Gulf Shrimp Cocktail, and Gulf Coast Flatbread. The menu also features an Oyster Bar offering fresh Gulf and Mid-Atlantic Oysters on the Half Shell, Alligator Harbor Clams, Peel ‘n Eat Gulf Shrimp, House-smoked Gulf Seafood Salad and Baked Oysters. New menu entrees include Grilled Swordfish, Seafood Jambalaya Pasta, Sautéed Grouper with Crab, Blackened Mahi Mahi, Southern Style Shrimp & Grits, Southern Surf & Turf, Grilled Filet Mignon, and more. Desserts added to the mix include Grilled Brown Butter Pound Cake, House-made White Chocolate Cheesecake, Lemon Pistachio Cake, Chocolate Cake and Passion Fruit and Crème Brûlée. The new menu began in March 2018.
Mayor Arnold Portrait Dedicated to Museum
Dozens of city officials and museum members gathered in March at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida for a special reception and exhibit dedication of a portrait of the late Mayor Bruce Arnold. The plaque’s inscription reads: “John B. Arnold Jr., born 1929, was Mayor for the City of Valparaiso, FL for 53 years. At the time of his passing in February of 2017, Mayor Arnold was the longest serving mayor in the state of Florida.” The portrait, created and donated by artist Julia Vanover, will remain on permanent display at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida. Seen here, Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Barbara Palmgren and Marlene Arnold, wife of the late Mayor Arnold, unveil his portrait during the exhibit dedication.
Snowbirds Adopt CIC Children’s Neighborhood
John Cleary has been coming to the panhandle during snowbird season for years. About seven years ago, he learned about Children in Crisis (CIC) and visited the CIC Children’s Neighborhood for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. Immediately Cleary’s heart was changed forever. For seven years, Cleary has spent three months of the year working on the long list of maintenance and repair needs at the CIC Neighborhood foster homes. As the CIC Neighborhood has grown, so has the repair needs. This year he recruited four of his fellow snowbirds and spouses to help out. Seen here, Cleary (far right) and his wife Donna are pictured with Ken Hair, CIC President and CEO, and the crew of snowbirds and spouses who assisted him this year.
Junior League of the Emerald Coast Holds 6th Annual Rock the Road 5k & 10k
In February, the Junior League of the Emerald Coast (JLEC) organized its 6th Annual Rock the Road 5k Walk/Run & 10k Run. Hosted by Destin Brewery, the rock-and-roll themed race saw record-breaking attendance with 381 participants, who dressed in costume as their favorite rock stars, enjoyed live music by Purple Monkey, and more. The combined support of this year’s sponsorships and attendees raised $13,000, with net profits benefitting JLEC’s Child Clothing Project. In addition to an annual shopping event for local students each October, JLEC currently supports four permanent Child Clothing Closets in local schools. With the help of school administrators, children in need of clothing items are able to discreetly get the items required from their school’s closet.
ECCAC Receives Donation from Army Aviation Federal Credit Union
Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center received a $500 donation from Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union. It was presented by employees D’von Campbell and Jill Russell. Providing services and emotional support to child victims experiencing abuse, abandonment or neglect is the 24/7 job of the multi-disciplinary team of staff and volunteers at the ECCAC with locations in Walton and Okaloosa Counties. The organization raises 60% of its annual budget for the two centers through special events, donations, and community-sponsored fundraisers. The remainder of monies are generated through grant requests and governmental funding.
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Implants World’s Smallest & Lead-Less Pacemaker
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center’s Heart Center has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to the latest technology and procedures so it’s no surprise that Fort Walton Beach Medical Center is the first hospital in the area to implant the world’s smallest and lead-less pacemaker. The first surgery for this new pacemaker (called the Micra) was performed by Dr. Ajit Janardhan in March.
Unlike most pacemakers that are placed in the patient's chest with leads running to the heart, the leadless pacemaker is implanted directly into the patient’s heart. For details about the world’s smallest pacemaker, visit http://www.medtronic.com/us-en/patients/treatments-therapies/pacemakers/our/micra.html.
Destin Commons Donates to Junior League of the Emerald Coast
Seen here, Melissa Rollins and Kelly Layman from Junior League of the Emerald Coast receive a $500 donation from Rachel Guidry, Destin Commons Marketing Coordinator. The donation was made through Destin Commons’ Coins For A Cause program, which was created to help benefit local charities with the monies collected from the center’s parking meters. Coins For A Cause has donated more than $1.2 million to area charities since its inception 10 years ago.
CAA Receives $10,000 Grant from La Lumiere Foundation
The Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) of Walton County has received a $10,000 grant from La Lumiére Foundation through proceeds generated from Hannah Martin’s Party, La Lumiére: A Metropolitan Affair. With this generous gift, the CAA will work with Westonwood Ranch to design a Creative Arts curriculum as part of the Ranch’s programming for those with special needs. Once created, participants and teachers will also be able to regularly apply for support through the CAA’s Art For All grant program, which provides funding for artists, arts organizations, teachers, and students through a quarterly application process.