The water is closed 🚩🚩

To: Daily Rundown Readers

👋 Good morning! (And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

After nearly 20 water rescue calls in the span of a few hours Tuesday afternoon, South Walton Fire District made the decision to change the flags to double red. Destin Beach Safety did the same thing.

Double red flags mean that the water is officially closed to the public.

At 2:55 pm on Tuesday, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a water rescue on the beach behind a home on Beach Drive in Miramar Beach.

Before deputies arrived, beachgoers pulled a 54-year-old man from the water after he attempted to save a young boy who was in distress. The boy was able to make it back to shore, but the man was found slumped over in the water.

The victim, positively identified as Timothy M. Browne, was eventually pulled from the water and CPR was initiated by a registered nurse who was on scene. First responders arrived within minutes and continued life-saving measures. He was transported to Sacred Heart where he was pronounced deceased. This took place before the double reds were flying.

As of 8:30am this morning, the South Walton Fire District has confirmed that double reds are flying again today for the beaches of South Walton. And Destin Fire Control District has confirmed that the water is closed on Destin beaches.

“Surf looks calmer this morning, but high winds are expected for the next two days, which will kick the surf back up to levels that surpassed yesterday’s conditions,” said the South Walton Fire District. “The call to go Double Red is NOT made lightly. Yesterday’s decision to go Double Red was the result of a high-volume of water rescues that overwhelmed EMS response capabilities, more-so than the actual surf conditions.”

The map below is color-coded to indicate the forecast rip current risk level.

According to the Fire District, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, along with Walton County Code Compliance, will be issuing $500 citations for violating the Double Red Ordinance.

As a reminder: The beaches are open but the water will be closed until the flags change.

Destin Community Center to Host Spring Break Camp

Welcome to Destin, Florida

The Destin Community Center will offer a “Spring into Fun” Camp during Spring Break from Monday, April 19th through Friday, April 23rd, 2021.

Camp registration is open to residents of Okaloosa County between the ages of 5-12. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

Cost is $80 for Destin residents and $90 for non-Destin residents within Okaloosa County.

“We’re going to be executing all of our health protection measures by making sure that temperatures are taken first thing in the morning and just letting parents know that if we see anything that’s of a concern, we’ll definitely be reaching out,” said Catherine Card, city of Destin. “But it was something that City Staff felt that they wanted to do and able to offer this to our families, and then have a very fun-filled week for the students.”

Camp begins at 9:00 am and will end at 5:00 pm.

What you can expect: There will be water days, park days (weather permitting), recreation games, crafts, and different activities planned throughout the week.

For more information, call the Destin Community Center at 850-654-5184 or email: Recreation@cityofdestin.com.

Destin’s path to building a more walkable community

For Destin residents who travel on Commons Drive every day, they know it’s a busy street with a lot of pedestrian foot traffic.. Not only do you have residential traffic but you’ve got the business community along that stretch as well. 

There’s also a lot going on at the Morgan Sports Center, especially now that the city has more tournaments and events taking place. And of course, the dog park is extremely popular. 

Up until this point, the sidewalks on Commons Drive were only within the city limits of Destin. But a good portion of the road belongs to the county.

“The majority of Commons Drive as you’re coming through the roundabout near City Hall, backtracking like say you’re going to Destin Commons, that’s all County,” said Catherine Card, Public Information Manager for the city of Destin.

Due to the County’s half-cent sales tax for infrastructure improvements, crews are working to connect to the sidewalks that are already in place within the city of Destin. They hope to have this complete by the end of March.

“It’s going to be a lot safer for pedestrians and we love that we’re having these opportunities to have a more walkable community here within the heart of Destin,” said Card.

The Commons Drive Pathway Project isn’t the only project happening within Destin to help foster a more walkable community. A section of sidewalk along Main Street was also repaired.

“City staff took an inventory of our sidewalk areas that really needed changes for safety and Main Street is an area that has a lot of heavy traffic,” continued Card.

According to the city, it sees a lot of heavy foot traffic too. 

“The section is right near Main Street Park and you’ve got Coleman Lake essentially right across the way,” said Card. “These are things that are important for our community and we’re just making sure that our sidewalks are meeting the expectations, and the levels they should be, for our community that we serve.”

City of Fort Walton Beach is wrapping up ‘Diversity Training’ Partnership

On March 24, 2021, the City of Fort Walton Beach will wrap up a diversity training program for its staff totaling more than 300 members. The City partnered with Reverend Cecil Williams, director of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office (DEI) at Eglin Air Force Base, to provide the training as part of an annual staff training program that began in January 2021.

According to the city, most staff trainings cover internal operations; however, some outside partnerships, like the one with DEI, are also being used.

“Investing in the development and well-being of our employees is very important to our success,” said Fort Walton Beach City Manager Michael Beedie. “We hosted a highly successful employee development conference in the summer of 2019 through a partnership with Northwest Florida State College that set the groundwork for ongoing staff training. We hit the pause button in 2020 because of COVID-19, and now we are moving forward again.”

The City’s employee training program offers new ideas and opportunities each month that cover a variety of topics. Some of the topics include personnel rules and regulations, evaluation practices, human resource procedures, diversity and customer service.

The city says that partnering with other organizations provides them with resources and perspectives that it may not have available internally. The diversity training program offered by DEI is the City’s latest partnership and has been well received.

“It has been a pleasure and honor to bring our training downtown. A positive relationship with the surrounding community for our military is important,” said Williams. “I think it is a good thing for everyone to receive the same training. I appreciate the City of Fort Walton Beach and especially Michael Beedie for reaching out to be a part of our program.”

Ok, that’s all I have for you this morning! Please forgive this being sent so late in the morning. I’ve been troubleshooting technical details all morning!

If you enjoyed today’s newsletter, I would love to hear from you. Just hit the reply button and tell me what you think! I read them all 🙂

Have a great (and safe) Wednesday!

Jared

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