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Chamber members hear about real estate, county parks and Eglin financial restraints

Jan 12th, 2012 | 0

By BEN GRAFTON

The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce held its 7 a.m. First Friday Breakfast meeting in the Lake Club House of Hammock Bay where the attendees enjoyed breakfast catered by Hammock Bay. Crystal Beach Development sponsored the program.

Gina Walker, of the Hammock Bay staff, said developer Jay Odom regretted not being there to welcome the attendees, but he had become very sick and was on his way to his doctor.

Walker went on to say that building activity is now moving “…fast and furiously…” at Hammock Bay. She said the economy made things slow for awhile, but for herself, since January last year, not including what the other realtors here have done, 22 properties have been sold. She said that it is exciting because this is the way it was in the very beginning when Hammock Bay properties were first placed on the market. She said that the value being offered now was tremendous for both houses and lots and that staff is available to answer questions seven days a week at the Welcoming Center.

Shane Supple, who fills the dual job as Walton County Recreation Director and Recreation Director for the city of Freeport, presented an overview of activity at county and city park facilities. The facilities may be used free of charge except there is a charge for lighting if the activity is at night.

Supple said that soccer will be offered this spring and basketball programs are underway at facilities countywide. He also said, “We are really trending toward doing more special needs children’s programs.” A soccer program for special needs children was started in DeFuniak Springs in the fall. Such good response was received that a basketball program for special needs children is being started.

Supple said that not only do they try to do programs for citizens, but they also try to do events that bring dollars into the county. Freeport Regional Sports Complex can be used in coordination with other county parks to provide facilities for large scale events. Last year at Freeport they had rugby tournaments, including the Women’s Division I Rugby South Championship, with as many as 16 teams from outside of our area. They have a disk golf course at the Sports Complex and did two tournaments last year with about two hundred people, some from as far away as Nashville, coming in for each of the tournaments.

Supple said that in the near future there are several programs and events coming up. There will be an Easter egg hunt this year on March 30 for able and disabled children. A lacrosse program and an NFL flag football program are under consideration and the tennis pro at Bluewater Bay will be presenting a program on the tennis courts.

According to Supple, wireless internet service is available at the Sports Complex and a new web site, www.waltonrec.com, will be launched, perhaps by the middle of next week, where interested people can see schedules and sign up for events. A $200,000 solar array that will supply part of the Complex’s electrical demand will be installed.

Col. Sal Nodjomian, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin Air Force Base spoke to the group about topics of community interest. He said that financial restraints are impacting the Department of Defense and the reality is that the Air Force will have about 16,000 civilian employees come off the books. He said that one way the Air Force Material Command will do this is by consolidation to go down from a command that has 12 sectors to a command with only five sectors.   The idea is to reduce most of the personnel at the management level, “…not at the tip of the spear,” where war fighting support would be lost. The Air Armament Center will be one of those things that will go away. A lot of people are fearful that the test mission will be affected, but that is not the case. The test mission will still be here. It is the Armament Center that will be reduced but, much of what is done at the Armament Center will still be here, it will just be in a different structure.

Nodjomian said that everything done at the test wing will still occur. The 46th Test Wing, which does all of the work out on the range,  and the 96th Air Base Wing will be merged into the 96th Test Wing. The merger will be made sometime later this year, perhaps in the fall. People are still working on the details. The leader of the merged wings will be a brigadier general. This one-star’s boss will be located in Edwards Air Force Base….

Read the full story in the January 12, 2012 edition of the Herald Breeze.

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