BP oil spill

Reef becomes staple of ecotourism

Reef becomes staple of ecotourism

Kayak fishing enthusiast Bob Boston remembers landing in Pensacola in 2010 the same day as the BP Oil Spill. He was returning from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. “I was mad. I said I have to do something, and when I get something on my mind, I’m tenacious,” Boston said. Read the full […]

Reef deployment on schedule despite storm

Reef deployment on schedule despite storm

Rough, high seas halted deployment of hundreds of reef modules along Navarre Beach, but the project is still on schedule according to representatives with deployment company Reef Maker, Walter Marine of Orange Beach, Alabama. Company founder David Walter said they are getting back to work after Tropical Storm Gordon put things on hold. Read the […]

Five things to know: Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners

Five things to know: Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners

Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) handled several requests for park funding NYSA playground to get fresh rubber In Navarre, that meant funding to replace the problematic rubber surface for the playground at the NYSA. District 4 Commissioner Rob Williamson questioned why the surface needed to be replaced so shortly after it was installed. […]

Ferry service set to begin this week

Ferry service set to begin this week

The long wait is almost over. Ferry Service in Pensacola Bay is scheduled to begin Friday after the National Park Service and Gulf Coast Maritime Services Inc. signed a contract for the operation of Pensacola Bay Cruises. “We’re excited to start working with Gulf Coast Maritime Services Inc. and begin the Pensacola Bay Cruises service,” […]

Navarre Beach land preservation deal falls through

Navarre Beach land preservation deal falls through

The future of a vacant, privately owned parcel in the heart of the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary is up in the air again after a buyer interested in preserving the land’s natural state bowed out. County Commission Chairman Bob Cole announced the change of plans to the public May 21 during a board meeting, reading […]

Commissioners on loose leash for travel spending

Commissioners on loose leash for travel spending

Rarely are questions raised about Santa Rosa County commissioners’ use of the panel’s $50,000 annual travel budget. Instead, there’s a large degree of trust accorded in the commissioners’ judgment about the necessity of their occasional trips to such destinations as government policy meetings in Washington, D.C., and other gatherings in cities such as Orlando and […]

Williamson to Tourist Development Committee: ‘Stay in your lane’

Williamson to Tourist Development Committee: ‘Stay in your lane’

In Thursday’s Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners meeting, District 4 commissioner Rob Williamson questioned the Tourist Development committee’s recommendation to keep $1 million in reserve funds. Noting that the staff recommendation is to keep $750,000 in the reserve fund, Williamson asked, “What is the compelling reason to push it to a million dollars and […]

Rubble rivalry may have ‘pieceful’ solution

Rubble rivalry may have ‘pieceful’ solution

There should be plenty of big concrete chunks from next year’s planned demolition of the old Pensacola Bay Bridge to supply the offshore reef-building needs of both Santa Rosa and Escambia for years to come. Although some commissioners from both counties are contentiously claiming shares of the valuable material to construct habitat for sport fish, […]

Gulf Breeze amenities get top priority

Gulf Breeze amenities get top priority

As state auditors prepare to examine the books at the City of Gulf Breeze, officials there are outlining spending plans to showcase the municipality: from a new police station to a children’s park splashpad. Although funding isn’t yet available for all the myriad projects detailed in a new city report, officials say the money can […]

Florida not ‘off the table’ for oil drilling

Florida not ‘off the table’ for oil drilling

Florida is in. Then it is out. Now it is in again. The last few weeks have seen mixed messages from the Trump administration on whether oil drilling along Florida’s Gulf Coast will be allowed to expand under a new five-year plan. But the most recent word appears to leave Florida firmly on the list […]

Another reef on the horizon for Navarre Beach

Another reef on the horizon for Navarre Beach

Phase III of the Florida Artificial Reef Creation and Restoration project continues and bid solicitation has been finalized for a near-shore fishing and diving reef off Navarre Beach. The project is funded by Natural Resource Damage Assessment money as a result of the BP oil spill in 2010. The total estimated cost of the project […]

Fish hatchery for beach tough to land

Fish hatchery for beach tough to land

The recent suggestion that Navarre Beach could be the new site of Pensacola’s proposed-but-troubled fish hatchery project isn’t gaining support. Since December, when County Commissioner Rob Williamson floated the notion of moving the planned site of the controversial Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission hatchery, the realities of funding needs and bureaucratic complexities have surfaced. Williamson […]

Politics mire Gulf drilling discussion 8 years after oil spill

Politics mire Gulf drilling discussion 8 years after oil spill

When equipment failures on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico went from leaks to a full-blown explosion, many living along the coastline felt the impact. Navarre Beach was no exception. Steve Herring owned several rental properties along Navarre Beach, and he said the cancellations started rolling in even before the oil […]

School district outlines plan for Innovation High

School district outlines plan for Innovation High

Northwest Florida is home to dozens of companies that require highly skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. To meet that need, Santa Rosa County School District has proposed the creation of Innovation High School. This new STEM-centric school would focus on preparing students for these careers through rigorous curriculum without the […]

County passed up economic planning grant

County passed up economic planning grant

Every year Santa Rosa officials apply for and win grants for hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state and federal governments, and they’re currently focused on gaining millions more as the county’s share of the BP oil spill settlement. So with a blizzard of grants available annually from various agencies, it probably isn’t surprising […]

County ready to pay again for economic advice

County ready to pay again for economic advice

The County Commission’s recent proposal to pay up to $120,000 for an economic development strategy devised by a private consultant seems to ignore that it paid $25,000 for such a plan in 2013. In fact, three current commissioners and Santa Rosa Economic Development Director Shannon Ogletree are listed in the report by California-based Chabin Concepts […]

Pass interest renewed

Pass interest renewed

In July 1965, a man-made waterway was opened that connected the Santa Rosa Sound to the Gulf of Mexico across a span of Navarre Beach 450 yards east of Navarre Bridge, near the boundary line with Eglin Air Force Base. Read the full article in the March 16 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com […]

Funds lacking to convert south county septic tanks

Funds lacking to convert south county septic tanks

The goal of converting the thousands of residential septic tanks in south Santa Rosa to more environmentally friendly sewer systems is widely embraced by elected officials, water utilities directors and the Florida Department of Health. Read the full article in the Feb. 9 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as […]

Start of ferry service docked again

Start of ferry service docked again

Bids for the operator of the ferry service planned for Pensacola Bay were in short supply and construction bids for the docks were limited as well, leading Gulf Islands National Seashore to hold off on starting up its service as planned in 2017. Delayed once already – a decision was made in October to start […]

Ferry service delayed until late spring

Ferry service delayed until late spring

Gulf Islands National Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown joked on Monday morning that people have wanted a ferry service in Pensacola Bay for 50 years. Their wait will be over soon. It’s just going to extend a couple of months longer than expected. Slated to begin in March of 2017, service to Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and […]

County commits BP dollars to clean up Santa Rosa Sound

County commits BP dollars to clean up Santa Rosa Sound

The Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners voted Thursday, Aug. 25, to allocate the county’s portion of Pot 3 of the RESTORE funds toward five projects to improve the water quality of Santa Rosa Sound. Applications for the county’s $12.3 million portion of the fund must be approved by the RESTORE Council, the Department […]

Gulf Breeze seeks septic tank elimination

Gulf Breeze seeks septic tank elimination

The 1,000 or so septic tanks on residential properties in the City of Gulf Breeze are potential environmental hazards, and the municipality is proposing a massive switch to its sewer system. “We would like to start making this happen, especially in areas near Santa Rosa Sound, to protect it from potential contamination,” said Mayor Matt […]

ReefCam installation stalled again

ReefCam installation stalled again

The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station received their underwater reef camera Aug. 30, but it will still be months until a live feed of Navarre’s reef ecosystem will be available to visitors. WTR-TV, or Watch the Reef TV, will provide a continuous live stream of Navarre Beach’s reef system to a monitor setup at the […]

Commission focuses on cleaning up Santa Rosa Sound

Commission focuses on cleaning up Santa Rosa Sound

The county’s commitment to cleaning up Santa Rosa Sound where unhealthy levels of bacteria have been discovered will include pursuing the sources of that pollution, commissioners have declared. Their decision came while setting priorities to spend roughly $28 million in BP oil spill compensation monies that the county is expected to receive in the next […]

Save $1 million to lose $10 million or Penny wise – pound foolish

Save $1 million to lose $10 million or Penny wise – pound foolish

Beach renourishment makes our beaches beautiful and whole again. It’s the process by which new sand is brought up from the Gulf to replace the lost sand on our beaches. That is an oversimplification of course. The end result is beautiful but the process is not. Our beaches will be under major construction with large […]

Fond farewells to Hunter Walker

Fond farewells to Hunter Walker

After attending more than 400 meetings of the Santa Rosa County Commission and working as its chief executive officer since 1995, Hunter Walker was honored at his retirement ceremony last week. The commissioners gave him a plaque, gathered for a group photo, patted him on the back and said fond farewells. Commissioner Bob Cole, who […]

Public pushes back on RESTORE plans

Public pushes back on RESTORE plans

Too much process and not enough progress to protect our precious coast. That’s the reaction of about a dozen Santa Rosa County residents to the local RESTORE Act council’s recommendations for spending $3.7 million in BP oil spill recovery money on 15 projects conceived as boosts for the area’s environment and economy. “What saddened me […]

BP oil spill dispersal agency starts up

BP oil spill dispersal agency starts up

The new non-profit agency formed to manage Northwest Florida’s share of the $1.5 billion in BP oil spill settlement funding has been formed, but it’s not yet functional. Triumph Gulf Coast, led by Allan Bense, its volunteer chairman who is a former speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, held its first public meeting earlier in […]

15 projects eyed for RESTORE funds

15 projects eyed for RESTORE funds

Santa Rosa County’s local RESTORE council has identified 15 projects which could be recommended for funding through county’s first direct allocation of RESTORE Act funds, and several Navarre area projects made the list. If the projects make the final cut later this year, including surviving a 45-day public comment period and receiving county commission approval, they could be implemented […]

Cycling awareness hits home

Cycling awareness hits home

Roger Grooters, 66, of Gulf Breeze, had less than 300 miles left in his cross-country quest to raise money and awareness for victims of the BP oil spill when his cycling trip ended abruptly in Ebro, Fla. Grooters was struck and killed by a distracted driver on Oct. 6, 2010. He started his journey in […]