Tuesday morning was the last full Commissioner’s meeting for Commissioners Graham Fountain and Captain Kelly Windes, as their term comes to an end and they both retire from the positions.
Commissioner Kelly Windes was elected to the seat which represents the eastern half of greater Niceville and the City of Destin in 2012. Commissioner Windes was born and raised in southern Okaloosa County and graduated from Choctawhatchee High School.
Immediately after graduation, Commissioner Windes served in the Navy. After separating from the Navy, Commissioner Windes returned home and worked as a charter boat captain in Destin for 50 years.
After more than eight years, much of which directly involved the commissioner, the Okaloosa County Tourism Development Department was able to deploy eight Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) 80 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Deploying the FADs was the easy part,” said Commissioner Windes. “It was the paperwork and red tape that took up most of the time. But we kept chipping away at it. Everyone said, ‘it would never happen,’ but I don’t take much stock in talk like that.”
Commissioner Windes decided not to seek re-election at the end of his term.
“I think we have had a good eight years of governance,” Commissioner Windes said. “I think we left the county in a better place than when we found it.”
Commissioner Graham Fountain is an Okaloosa County native and a retired law enforcement executive. Commissioner Fountain earned his B.S. in Criminal Justice and Political Science from Troy University and a M.A. in Management and Leadership Studies from Liberty University.
Commissioner Fountain was elected to the commission in 2016 and represents the northeastern quadrant of Okaloosa County. During the summer, Commissioner Fountain announced he would not be running for re-election in 2020.
Fountain was able to accomplish many of his goals during his term in office.
“I am proud of keeping my commitments to the voters by keeping taxes low, providing a high level of services to citizens – particularly in the area of public safety and law enforcement, defending constitutional rights such as prayer, making ‘In God We Trust’ our county motto, allowing county workers to conceal carry while at work and passing a safe haven measure for second amendment rights in Okaloosa County,” Commissioner Fountain said.
Fountain was an integral part of getting the Crestview Bypass in motion. In a press release, the county wrote:
“After years of struggle, traffic jams, a half-cent sales tax referendum and a nail-biting proposal for funding in front of the Triumph Gulf Coast board meeting – all of the pieces were put together to make the bypass around the rapidly expanding city of Crestview a reality.”
“I am proud of the work the commission was able to accomplish in getting the funds for the Southwest Crestview Bypass,” said Commissioner Fountain, “We have made this bypass a reality only through the hard work and dedication of the people of Okaloosa County, the County Commission and the hard work of staff.”
Fountain’s diligence with the Secretary of the FDOT, the governor, and legislature paid off in getting over $100 million dollars moved from other projects around the state to fund the new interstate exchange that completes the Southwest Crestview Bypass project.
Although retiring from elected public office, Commissioner Fountain has been tapped by the new State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit, Ginger Bowden Madden, to serve as chairman and chief-of-staff for her transition team.
Both Commissioners will attend the next scheduled meeting, however, they will be immediately replaced by the newly elected commissioners.