Okaloosa County

Jennie Mckeon/WUWF

When Avery Johnson recently received his high school diploma, he put it above the fireplace in his home. And every day, when he walks in the door, he still can’t believe what he sees.

“I’m still in shock,” he said. “It’s a reminder that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. It’s very emotional because it’s something I’ve always wanted. To have it today is a great blessing.”

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

The Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners met a packed house Thursday night at their recycling workshop with more than 100 constituents ready to talk trash.

Two weeks ago, 34,000 residents in unincorporated Okaloosa County found out their recyclables were being hauled to Waste Management’s landfill instead of being processed at Emerald Coast Utilities Authority recycling facility in Cantonment in Escambia County.

Alexander Rea / Centimental Journey


A new organization — PFLAG Niceville — made up of a cross-section of people is offering support to the area’s LGBTQ communities in Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

PFLAG’s inaugural meeting was held on Sunday, drawing more than 30 people from the two-county area.

“As I was sitting in that meeting and listening to people share their stories, I just felt such a power and such a love in that room; almost like this was really needful,” said David Simmons, a professor of Humanities and Film Studies at Northwest Florida State College, and PFLAG President.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Less than two weeks after a town hall meeting, where residents passionately expressed their frustrations, the Sylvania Heights community has their park back — with improvements.

Residents were dismayed by the closing of the neighborhood’s only park after it was deemed unsafe. Okaloosa County Commissioner Trey Goodwin took questions and comments from dozens of community members at the June 13 town hall meeting and promised the park would be open within weeks. 

File photo

Now that snowbirds are starting to head home, Destin is preparing for a new influx of visitors.

Spring breakers.

College students have made the Destin area their home during their break for some time. It’s easy to spot them on the beach with their school flags waving as they throw Frisbees back and forth and snap selfies. Most of them are drinking, but not all of them are the legal drinking age.

Okaloosa County

Okaloosa County residents will have the chance to vote on a half-cent surtax to fund infrastructure projects around the county this Election Day.

The half-cent tax, otherwise known as a local option sales tax, reduces the need to raise property taxes and “spreads the pain” of taxes to residents and visitors of Okaloosa County, said Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel.

Daniel Uhlfelder

Oct. 8 Update: Red tide blooms are still present in Walton, Bay and Gulf counties. In Walton County, there is a medium concentration of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis.  According to the latest update from FWC, there is a very low presence of red tide in Okaloosa County. 

Red tide Blooms have popped up in Walton and Okaloosa Counties according to the latest update from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 

WUWF Public Media

Santa Rosa and Okaloosa are among eight Florida counties in line to receive funding from the 'BearWise' program, to help reduce conflicts between bears and humans.

Bear populations in the state were up in 2015, the latest figures available from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), compared to the last estimate taken in 2002. There were roughly 120 bears in the western Panhandle of Florida – a 50 percent increase -- and nearly 1,100 in the eastern Panhandle – up 86 percent.

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

Okaloosa County officials are trying to reassure residents following the arrest of two former EMS paramedics for using their cell phones to take “selfies” and videos with patients in their ambulances.

24-year-old Kayla Dubois of Navarre and 33-year-old Christopher Wimmer of Crestview were arrested Thursday after a two-month investigation by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

A 9/11 International Memorial Flag was unveiled at the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport Monday afternoon. The 9/11 Memorial Flag consists of nearly three thousand smaller American Flags sewn together into one massive Memorial Flag. Each flag represents a victim from the World Trade Center, Pentagon, Virginia and Flight #93 that lost their life in the 2001 terrorist attack on the U. S.

Extra Spring Break Security For Okaloosa County In 2016

Jan 7, 2016
Photo via Flickr// ** Parapluie ** / https://www.flickr.com/photos/restreguas/4509084689/

An interlocal agreement was made this week between the city of Destin and Okaloosa County to fund the sheriff office’s enhanced law enforcement plan for Spring Break 2016. WUWF’s Danielle Freeman reports, although the cost will be shared by both parties and the measure is just a contingency plan, the source of the funding is still uncertain.

One Hopeful Place Breaks Ground In Okaloosa County

Dec 16, 2015
Community Solutions

  Community Solutions, partnered with the Greater Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce recently broke ground on One Hopeful Place, a facility intended to aid the homeless in Okaloosa County. WUWF’s Danielle Freeman reports although the groundbreaking is just the beginning of several phases the center will go through before completion in 2016, the community is eager about its potential.

  Okaloosa County Commissioners are in the process of drafting a resolution that would voice opposition to relocating Middle East Conflict Zone refugees to the county.  However, board members have asked staff to rework the language in the resolution before bringing it back for consideration at their next meeting.


The item was initially put on the agenda by Commissioner Trey Goodwin.


The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season has come to a close. The six-month period wrapped up on Monday, November 30.

As expected, it was a relatively quiet year.

In line with forecasts projecting a slightly below average season, there were 11 named storms, with four of those becoming hurricanes.  

Florida made it through the season without a storm making landfall in the state, but there were a couple of close calls.

Danielle Freeman

Throughout the spring and summer, the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County keeps a close watch on the quality of saltwater beaches. That includes weekly testing at more than a dozen locations, as part of the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program.  

I’m holding a bailer, attached with a role pack that will contain the water that I’m sampling I’m going to dip it into the water about 18 inches below the surface to avoid the contaminants like gas, oils, debris, stuff like that.”