Turtle center hatches

The wooden beachfront shack sat vacant, collecting sand and salty grime from years of lacking care. Mold had begun to grow on the walls, floors and ceiling of the county-owned building.

Once a state park information center, it shut its doors in 2008, left to sit and rot.

Until some turtle ladies, a handful of volunteers, a community with a little elbow grease to spare and one dedicated county commissioner set out to transform the wasted space into a hub of ecotourism and conservation.

After five years of hard work, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (NBSTCC) officially opened its doors Tuesday morning during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Crowds of people gathered at the brightly painted center on Navarre Beach to meet the center’s wild residents, including the blind loggerhead sea turtle Gigi. In attendance were officials from the county, State Rep. Mike Hill, candidates for U.S. Congress and community members of all ages.

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L to R starting in front: Alexandra (Paige) Douglas, veterinarians Limarie Rodriguez and Morgan McCallen, Wendy Hoeflich, Pamela Sexton, Cathy Holmes, Cinnamon Holderman, Amanda Sanders and Jim Holmes show their satisfaction in their accomplishment.

L to R starting in front: Alexandra (Paige) Douglas, veterinarians Limarie Rodriguez and Morgan McCallen, Wendy Hoeflich, Pamela Sexton, Cathy Holmes, Cinnamon Holderman, Amanda Sanders and Jim Holmes show their satisfaction in their accomplishment.

State Rep. Mike Hill, Sen. Don Gaetz, TDC Director Julie Morgan and former Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jim Melvin do the honors at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center ribbon cutting while Board President Yvonne Harper looks on.

State Rep. Mike Hill, Sen. Don Gaetz, TDC Director Julie Morgan and former Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jim Melvin do the honors at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center ribbon cutting while Board President Yvonne Harper looks on.

Right after the official ribbon cutting for the Turtle Center, the Navarre Beach Chamber of Commerce held its own special ribbon cutting Tuesday morning in honor of, wait for it...a new business! Turtle Center Director Cathy Holmes, center, happily operates the scissors.

Right after the official ribbon cutting for the Turtle Center, the Navarre Beach Chamber of Commerce held its own special ribbon cutting Tuesday morning in honor of, wait for it…a new business! Turtle Center Director Cathy Holmes, center, happily operates the scissors.

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