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More than $23 million in state funding approved across Okaloosa County

On Thursday, June 15, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Framework for Freedom Budget for Fiscal Year 2023–24. “All of Okaloosa County must appreciate the incredible gesture of support that […]

Okaloosa Public Information Office

On Thursday, June 15, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Framework for Freedom Budget for Fiscal Year 2023–24.

  • Among the budget’s provisions, there were a significant number of appropriations projects approved across Okaloosa County, with a total funding of over $23 million.

“All of Okaloosa County must appreciate the incredible gesture of support that the state and Governor Ron DeSantis have given and continue to give to our residents,” said Okaloosa County Board Chairman Trey Goodwin. “These appropriations would never have received funding without the tireless work of Representatives Patt Maney and Joel Rudman and Senators Doug Broxson and Jay Trumbull, who make up our Legislative Delegation and who always fight hard for Northwest Florida’s needs.”

Representative Patt Maney expressed his appreciation to Governor DeSantis for signing the Framework for Freedom Budget and what it means for Okaloosa County.

“When I asked for your vote, I didn’t mince words,” said State Representative Patt Maney. “I will fight tooth and nail for families in Okaloosa County to invest our state resources in mental health services, education, veteran and military family services, workforce development, attainable housing, and our local infrastructure and environment. I am immensely thankful to Florida House and Senate leadership, and Governor DeSantis, for their dedication to meeting the needs of Florida’s communities.”

Here’s a look at what was approved:

$7,000,000- SHOAL RIVER RANCH WATER RECLAMATION FACILITY:

With the County’s existing sewer plant, the Jerry D. Mitchem Water Reclamation Facility (JDMWRF), being limited by capacity and its technology, and with the northern portion of the County being primed for residential, commercial, and industrial growth, an additional water reclamation facility is needed.

  • This is a proactive solution to limit the amount of septic tanks being installed and allow development, growth, and jobs to occur. Numerous requests for public sewer have been received from landowners, developers, and engineers that would put the actual wastewater flow millions of gallons per day beyond the current capacity of the JDMWRF.

$1,350,000 – UNIVERSITY OF WEST FLORIDA:

This funding will enable UWF to plan the Civil Engineering curriculum & renovate spaces needed for Civil Engineering labs in order to offer an ABET-accredited Bachelors degree program in Civil Engineering, at both the Pensacola campus & joint NWFSC campus in Fort Walton Beach, with an overall 5-year enrollment target of 200 students per year.

$990,000 – NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE:

Northwest Florida State College will expand critical infrastructure & workforce pipelines through its new Health Sciences & Public Safety programs, specifically targeting the educational needs of students & military dependents, resulting in an $8.3 million annual economic impact.

$375,000 – OKALOOSA COUNTY – WEST HIGHWAY 98 COLLECTOR ROAD:

The proposed project consists of constructing an approximate 3-mile roadway that runs parallel to Highway 98 and will provide significant relief to congestion along US 98 for all the residential areas west of Hurlburt Field. The new collector road will allow for the relocation of access to Florosa Elementary; thereby removing school turning traffic from US 98.

$307,200 – ADVANCING CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION:

This funding will provide technology & virtual reality simulations to CTE programs in Okaloosa County Schools, to include computers & iPads in programs currently without access. The virtual reality simulations will support the Building Trades programs in nine secondary schools.

$200,000 – EXPANDING HOMELESS SHELTER & HOUSING:

This funding will remove 10 concrete waste water treatment silos (each 150,000 gallon capacity) from One Hopeful Place’s property in Fort Walton Beach, clearing 5 acres to build additional shelters & affordable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.

$350,000 – MENTAL HEALTH & SUBSTANCE ABUSE:

Request funding to support continued operations of the Okaloosa-Walton Mental Health and Substance Abuse Pre-Trial Diversion Program designed to redirect at-risk populations from incarceration in local jails.

$1,250,000 – SPECIAL NEEDS BALL FIELD & PARK:

Home of the Special Olympics in Florida, Okaloosa County will be able to utilize this funding to design & construct its first inclusive ball field & park for individuals with special needs.

$2,000,000 VICTORY VILLAGE:

One-time appropriation to purchase approx. 80 acres of land, adjoining the Bob Hope Village & Hawthorne House, which will be used to build a military retiree & veteran wounded warrior campus called Victory Village.

$200,000 – EQUINE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES:

Funding will significantly reduce the wait time for those seeking alternative mental health services utilizing horse/equine therapy with Healing Hoof Steps in Crestview, to include kids 5-12 years old, at-risk teens, veterans, & adults with mental health concerns. This funding will be matched by Okaloosa County.

$4,171,780 – OKALOOSA NATURAL GAS

This funding provides for a main extension line to provide natural gas service to underserved communities in Niceville & Freeport where homeowners currently pay higher prices for propane & electricity. Homeowners will also be able to install backup generators that utilize natural gas. The line will create critical redundancy & sustainability for local military facilities.

$1,626,694 – OKALOOSA NATURAL GAS

This funding provides for a main extension line to provide natural gas service to underserved communities in Laurel Hill & Paxton where homeowners currently pay higher prices for propane & electricity. Homeowners will also be able to install backup generators that utilize natural gas. This funding will expand service without passing those charges onto existing customers by way of rate increase.

$500,000 – MARY ESTHER STORMWATER IMPROVEMENTS

This funding will regrade Ray’s Pond in Mary Esther & improve its performance, as well as regrade an existing drainage ditch along the northwest City limits to redirect stormwater flows, reducing street flooding, property damage, & improving discharged water quality.

$300,000 – BENJAMIN STREET SEPTIC to SEWER

Benjamin Street resides in a historic, low-income sector of Crestview that has been on a septic system serving 12 residents and a church. City sewer is installed in surrounding areas of Benjamin Street & is able to connect with a master lift station, force main, & low-pressure grinder pump stations.

$891,500 – SEPTIC to SEWER CONVERSION

Annexed subdivision in Crestview where most of the home’s septic tanks are failing or have failed. Water samples of the water came back with extremely high fecal coliform counts. The City of Crestview will be able to install 105 grinder pumps, 29,900′ of low-pressure force main along the roads, & a lift station to connect the subdivision to the City’s sewer system.

$300,000 – CORAL CREEK NATURE TRAIL

Funding will be used for design, engineering, & permitting of complete nature trail around Coral Creek in the City of Fort Walton Beach. Proposed enhancements include pedestrian & bike access, landscaping, lighting & environmental education.

$750,000 – VINEYARD VILLAGE LOW-INCOME HOUSING

The City of Crestview will be able to develop an affordable housing complex on approx. 1.43 acres to help reduce crime, add value & culture to the community, as well as address local housing shortages. The complex is anticipated to consist of up to 28 one-two bedroom residential apartments.

$850,000 – BRIDGES to HOPE TRANSITIONAL HOUSING:

The funds will be used to renovate, equip, & furnish an existing two-story house that will serve as safe transitional housing for those who have completed the Forensic Pre-Trial Program, the Detoxification Program, & those experiencing homelessness to include veterans & the disabled.

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Community Comments

“Great news. Thank you NPD. Walgreens also collects unwanted drugs but sometimes not available.”
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“The deputy did not have the right to use his firearm to escalate to the deadly force threshold. On any domestic disturbance, we were trained as law enforcement officers to...”
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“Eglin has aleady given up the back nine holes of the Falcon golf course. The Falcon is now a 9 hole course. My concern is how the topography matches up...”
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“I think this plan would be great for this community. Changing with the times bringing economic growth. Jobs. Improvement housing and business opportunities. Vibrancy to the community.”
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“The affordable housing in that area near wonderful schools and senior assisted living condominiums would be great. For the military to even think of leasing or selling land for these...”
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“The greedy s.o.b.s have already screwed up the whole town.i never dreamed that it would be the way it is. It's a damn shame!!!”
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“All the greedy sobs already screwed up the whole town . I was raised here as kid and never dreamed this kind of crap would happen to this place. It's...”
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“BS Affordable Housing My A$$! DO NOT DO IT Gen Geraghty! Keep Eglin Fed Owned and Controlled! Seriously they think they can get or even afford Poquito Bayou and Eglin...”
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“They think that Eglin AFB is going to give up there golf course!!!! They are so delusional!!”
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“Unreal. There is no room for more people here. Dirtbags and POS people are gonna move in and ruin there great area. People are so greedy it is unreal. Clearly...”
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