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Recognizing 'one of our greatest Americans': Crestview schedules Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march

CRESTVIEW — This year’s annual walk and ceremony honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will take place soon in Crestview. This annual City of Crestview event is organized by the Concerned Citizens of Crestview, with support from Mayor JB Whitten.

Mayor Whitten encourages all citizens, including children, to participate in this recognition of one of our greatest Americans.

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The event starts 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15 at the south entrance to Main Street. The march concludes at the Veterans’ Memorial, where a ceremony will follow the community’s walk up Main Street.

This year’s featured guest speaker is the Rev. Benjamin Randolph of Beulah No. 1 Missionary Baptist Church in Milligan. Crestview Police Chief Stephen McCosker, Crestview High School Jr. ROTC Sgt. Joann Durm, Linda Parker, Whitten, and Pearl G. Bess are among the scheduled participants in this year’s ceremony.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: Recognizing 'one of our greatest Americans': Crestview schedules Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march

Photos: Okaloosa and Walton Operation Christmas Child groups exceed 10K goal

CRESTVIEW — Team members in Okaloosa and Walton counties exceeded their goal of 10,000 packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in 2021.

Kelly Clark out of Cinco Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach stands with additional Operation Christmas Child volunteers. They had over 2,000 shoeboxes dropped off on the first day of National Collection Week of the OCC program. The regional OCC organizers thank the community for walking along side this ministry and giving other children across the world the opportunity to learn about Jesus.

Operation Christmas Child volunteers Connie Harrison and another volunteer from Southwide Baptist Church were part of the 2021 OCC group in DeFuniak Springs.

Faith Witcher, Operation Chistmas Child director, is pictured with her twin daughters, Quinn and Aubrey.

Churches, individuals, and groups worked to pack, gather and ship the boxes, which will be sent to children all over the world by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity which teaches children about “the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Pilgrim Rest Church members dropped off over 400 shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child program run by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian charity. Visit samaritanspurse.org for more information.

Emerald Coast Youth Bassmasters prayed over Operation Christmas Child boxes as they came in for delivery to the Samaritan's Purse organization.

The teams in the Okaloosa and Walton County region were happy to reach their goal of 10,000 boxes donated to the Operation Christmas Child program. The Emerald Coast Youth Bassmasters helped load the semi for delivery, as well as said prayers over the boxes before they were loaded.

Quinn and Aubry Witcher, the children of Operation Christmas Child Director Faith Witcher, helped as boxes were packed and shipped to the Samaritans Purse organization.

Shoebox and monetary donations may still be made online as well. Visit samaritanspurse.org for more information.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: Photos: Okaloosa and Walton Operation Christmas Child groups exceed 10K goal

HAPPENINGS: Treasuring family gifts and looking forward to the new year

Did you have a merry and blessed Christmas with your family and friends? Did you receive the gifts that you wanted? Did you receive Jesus, the greatest gift of all? His birth, which is why we celebrate Christmas, was to bring salvation to the world.

We all get a variety of gifts, and some of them stand out more than others. Sometimes just a small gift is more meaningful than a larger more expensive gift, as it has loving memories behind it.

I look at the beautiful quilts my mother made over the years and see all the love that she put into them, as well as the quilt and afghans Jim's mother made for him. As we grow older, we don't need as many possessions to make us happy as most of us have houses full of items we have accumulated over the years.

My husband, Jim, requested a new screen door for the back porch. This was a practical gift and one that is on order for him. We send gifts to the grandchildren as they outgrow clothing and jackets and love new toys each year.

What plans do you have for the new year? It is difficult to believe that 2022 is almost upon us.

We used to spend New Year's Eve at Walt Disney World, but have decided that is a long drive for just a few days. We have no particular plans and may just ring in the New Year by watching the local count down from Pensacola. Maybe I can convince my husband to play Monopoly with me.

As you know from reading my column over the years, I am not much of a resolution person, but there always areas in our lives that could use improvement. What are some areas that you'd like to work on in 2022? Did you make any lifestyle changes in 2021 that you'd like to carry forward?

Are you eating healthier, more fresh vegetables and fruits and less processed foods? Did you spend more time exercising than in previous years? Are you getting plenty of sunshine, our natural vitamin D? Whatever changes you'd like to make, start now so that 2022 will be a successful year.

Did you manage to read through the Bible in 2021? If not, you have an entire new year ahead to do so. There are many Bible reading plans on the internet that you can follow and your church may also have a Bible reading plan.

Perhaps there is a program or charity that could use your particular skills. Make this the year to volunteer your time and talents. Take stock of where you are today, decide where you'd like to be on Dec. 31, 2022 and make a plan.

These past two years have been difficult and our prayer is that everyone has a very happy, healthy New Year!

Janice Lynn Crose

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: HAPPENINGS: Treasuring family gifts and looking forward to the new year

CHECK IT OUT: Library can be a beacon in the chaotic storm

CRESTVIEW — Recently, we enjoyed an evening celebrating the holiday season at our annual Noel Night. This event has become a tradition with Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa activities including crafts, choir performances, and dreidel.

Children spend some time with Santa during the Noel Night event recently at the Crestview Public Library.

Here, the community comes to celebrate and connect. Even Santa and Mrs. Claus stop in to visit. When this season moves to the next, the library will continue to be a place for community connection.

When the world seems so chaotic and polarizing, the library is a beacon in the storm. These last few years have been especially tough for most. Human connection has never been more important to our well-being.

It is the library’s mission to provide space for curiosity, exploration, and access to reliable information and assistance from experienced staff. 

Guests and performers all enjoy decorating Christmas cookies recently during the Crestview Public Library's Noel Night event.

At Crestview Public Library, we believe that access equals opportunity. Sometimes that means a space to create, the ability to research peer reviewed information, or using the internet to apply for a new job.

We offer many services and resources to help improve your quality of life. If you would like to learn more about all that Crestview Public Library offers, please come see us at 1445 Commerce Drive, Crestview, call us at 850-682-4432, or visit our website www.cityofcrestview.org/178/library.

Jean McCarthy

Jean McCarthy is director of Library Services at the Crestview Public Library.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: CHECK IT OUT: Library can be a beacon in the chaotic storm

Crestview Police Department welcomes two new officers

CRESTVIEW — The Crestview Police Department recently swore in two new members of the agency, Officer Sarah Althuisius and Officer Kristy Peters.

Crestview Mayor J.B. Whitten swears in new Crestview Police Department Officer Sarah Althuisius, center, and Officer Kristy Peters Dec. 21 in Crestview.

Althuisius is dual certified as a police officer after recently participating in the Corrections to Law Enforcement Cross-over program through the Florida Panhandle Technical College in Chipley.

Peters was an agency sponsored candidate who recently participated and graduated from the Law Enforcement Academy at George Stone Technical College in Pensacola.

Both officers were sworn in by Crestview Mayor J.B. Whitten Dec. 21 and will be introduced to the Field Training Program during the first week of January. During the 10-week program, both officers will participate in standardized training that covers every aspect of law enforcement, from department policies and procedures to addressing the law enforcement needs of our citizens.

The CPD welcomes both officers to the Crestview Police Department family and looks forward to introducing them to the citizens of Crestview.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: Crestview Police Department welcomes two new officers

Crestview to ‘Hail Our Heroes’ in April 2022

German paratrooper reenactors surrender to American GI reenactors during Crestview’s August 2020 World War II Victory 75th Anniversary Commemoration. In April 2022, Twin Hills Park will host a large re-enactment weekend called “Hail Our Heroes.”

CRESTVIEW — The heroic and audacious April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Tokyo forms the centerpiece of — and inspiration for — “Hail Our Heroes,” a three-day World War II re-enactment weekend set for April 22-24, 2022, in Crestview’s flagship Twin Hills Park.

“After the success of our D-Day 75th anniversary observance in 2019 and our World War II Victory 75th Anniversary Celebration last year, we’re getting as spunky as Col. Doolittle and his Raiders and going big,” Mayor JB Whitten said. “The educational value of this will be amazing. It’s our biggest World War II event yet.”

“Hail Our Heroes” is one of the city’s new Cultural Services Division’s first events. Since early this spring, its organizers have been brainstorming a lively and enriching program of activities that will appeal to families, kids, teens, veterans, World War II buffs, history enthusiasts and everyone in between.

“We have a fascinating array of reenactors interested in coming,” event adviser and National World War II Museum certified Living History Corps member Dako Morfey said. “Visitors will have an opportunity to see equipment and vehicles from both sides of the war and meet the reenactors and learn about their weapons and equipment.”

These groups will establish bivouacs (encampments) around the Twin Hills Park east pond, where they will live just as World War II soldiers lived in the field.

USS HORNET, PACIFIC OCEAN 1942 -- Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle performs a full-throttle takeoff from the USS Hornet 650 miles from Japan on a secret mission. The Doolittle Raid, U.S. Army Air Force special order No. 1 of World War II, was a daring one-way mission of 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers with 80 aircrew, commanded by Colonel Doolittle, to carry out America’s first offensive attack on Japan. The crews secretly trained for two-weeks and modified the B-25s at Eglin Air Force Base's Wagner Field, Auxiliary Field 1 prior to the mission.

Morfey, a military and history events coordinator who advised Whitten on the city’s 9/11 20th anniversary events, hosted a Luftwaffe parachutist’s field camp at last year’s World War II Victory event in Crestview. At the April 2022 event, he said, visitors will find continuous activities throughout the weekend, “and it’s all absolutely free.”

The Cultural Services Division is partnering with Northwest Florida State College’s Robert L.F. Sikes Educational Center. The former Crestview library will serve as an “occupied French château” that will be “liberated” by Allied reenactment forces several times during the weekend.

“For inside the atrium, we’re inviting a living history group that specializes in portraying German field clerical soldiers,” Morfey said. “When the château’s not being liberated, people can examine vintage World War II radios, field telephones, and other communication equipment.”

During the weekend, most of the east Twin Hills Park facilities will remain open for public use, including the rest rooms and the walking path around the pond, which will become a “World War II Milestones” history walk with historical display panels set up along the way.

Local World War II reenactors portray German troops at the June Laurel Hill Arts and Heritage Festival. From left are Dako Morfey, Dottie Dellamorte (portraying a German Red Cross nurse), Michael Sullivan, Andrew Daigle and Brennan Donch.

Activities and exhibitors currently under consideration for the weekend include:

• A “Command Post” welcome center tent where visitors can receive maps, event schedules, information and proposed periodic “briefings” on World War II topics by NWFSC history faculty

• Event “passports” in which visitors can receive stamps from various camps and exhibits

• A display of war-era medical equipment in a field hospital setting

• A canteen or field mess offering cuisine of the era

• A U.S. military transportation battalion’s vehicle repair station

• Possible flyovers by World War II aircraft

• A collection of World War II vehicles

• A free public USO-style Victory Dance with a 15-piece big band on April 23

• Meet re-enactors representing both sides of the conflict and discuss World War II tactics, equipment and history; learn about the reenactment hobby; examine weaponry and equipment; and, with permission, try on uniform pieces such as helmets

• War-era music, announcements, and vintage radio commercials broadcasted daily

• World War II newsreels and vintage documentaries screened in the movie tent

• A display of World War II film posters and books from which WWII films were made at the Crestview Public Library throughout April

• An ecumenical field church service taken directly from a World War II chaplain’s manual, with music from the World War II U.S. Army and Navy hymnal played on a field pump organ.

Dako Morfey, an adviser for Crestview’s April 2022 World War II “Hail Our Heroes” weekend, discusses Twin Hills Park fire and pyrotechnic safety precautions for the weekend’s reenactments with Crestview Fire Department Captains Corey Winkler and Matt Cunningham.

“It’s going to be an amazing weekend,” Morfey said. “I’ve helped coordinate, and have participated in, numerous re-enactments all over the country, but the enthusiastic support we’ve received the city of Crestview is going to assure one of the best and most educational events I’ve ever seen.”

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: Crestview to ‘Hail Our Heroes’ in April 2022

HAPPENINGS: The true meaning of Christmas

Christmas is almost here. Are you prepared? Are the cards mailed, the packages wrapped and the baking finished? Is your house clean and ready for guests should you be hosting Christmas? Do you feel frazzled?

Quite simply, Christmas was not meant to be a time of hectic activity. God desires peace for us and at Christmas we should spend time contemplating the wondrous gift God sent the world through his Son, Jesus. 

Yes, it is a wonderful time of year to gather with family and friends and spend time with them. It is fun to buy gifts for one another, but let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus. Jesus was born as a baby and came to Earth to redeem humankind from their sins in order that we can live eternally in heaven with God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. 

We have heard the story of Jesus' birth. The angel Gabriel came to a young woman named Mary and told her that she would conceive a baby and that he would be the Son of the Most High God. The angel continued that God would give Jesus the throne of his father David, that Jesus would reign forever and there would be no end to his kingdom.

 Mary asked how could this happen as she was a virgin and the angel answered and told her the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon her. (Luke 1:26-38) Mary replied that she was the handmaiden of the Lord and that his will be done.

One can imagine the surprise Joseph had when Mary told him she was having a baby. He knew the child wasn't his and I'm sure was hurt that Mary was pregnant. Being a good and righteous man, Joseph didn't want Mary stoned to death (the penalty for adultery) so he sought a way to privately send her away. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to go ahead and take Mary as his wife as the baby she was carrying had been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The angel further told Joseph the baby would be called Jesus and that he would save his people from their sins. Then the angel quoted Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel." So Joseph did as the angel requested and took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:18-25)

What an amazing story is the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary was probably a young teenager and Joseph may have been a few years older, but here is this young couple and the Lord allowed them the honor and privilege of being the earthly parents of his Son. I am certain they took this responsibility seriously.

Caesar Augustus, the ruler of Rome, decided to conduct a census and wanted everyone to go to the town of their ancestors. So a very pregnant Mary, along with Joseph, set out for Bethlehem to be counted. There were no rooms available for this couple and Mary was going to have a baby, so they found a stable and she gave birth among the animals. A lowly stable was the birthplace of our Savior who had come from heaven to be born as a human baby and would eventually die for our sins.

No one on this Earth has ever been more royal than the Lord Jesus Christ, yet he was born in a stable into very humble circumstances. He was sent to the world, not just the rich and powerful. The first people to worship the newborn King were the shepherds from the field. The religious leaders of his day rejected Christ Jesus, but the poor and everyday citizens accepted him. We all have a choice. Do we accept Christ Jesus as our Savior, or do we reject him? We need to choose wisely.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men," Luke 2:14.

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Janice Lynn Crose

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: HAPPENINGS: The true meaning of Christmas

EXTENSION CONNECTION: The lost art of making cane syrup

It’s definitely an art. Making that delicious syrup from cane juice is art. There’s science in it for sure, but as I watch this process, I realize there’s an art to it as well as the science.

In the 100-plus-year-old kettle in the middle of the woods in northeast Okaloosa County, I observe several gentlemen working diligently to create their masterpiece. From personal experience, it’s the best cane syrup I have ever tasted.

Cane syrup makers work on a batch of syrup recently in Northwest Florida.

The process of cane syrup starts with growing the sugar cane. It is technically a perennial grass, even though it grows 6 to 20 feet tall. The cane is harvested in the fall. In antique mills, the cane juice is squeezed from the cane and collected. The mill used to be mule-powered but now they use a tractor to do the job.

The juice is then processed into syrup. Simply put, you evaporate water from the juice to thicken it into syrup. This can be done either by slow boiling in a large kettle or by using the “newer” method of using an evaporator. These guys prefer the old method using a kettle. They feel it removes the impurities in the cane juice and creates a better product.

Who am I to argue, since it was the tastiest cane syrup ever.

The kettle of juice is heated by a fire burning underneath it. The fire man is in charge of keeping the fire just right under the kettle. Too hot and you’ll scorch the syrup. Too cool and you won’t ever get it processed. With his thermometer and hydrometer, one man keeps an eye on the juice temperature and the relative density. A couple of guys are on either side of the kettle, removing impurities by wiping the hot kettle edge with a dishcloth. This evidently is an easy job because they let me give it a try. I'm happy to report I didn’t burn myself.

The team works seamlessly from field to jar. They have a lot of practice. They have been making cane syrup there since 2006. Keeping an old southern tradition alive, the team has perfected the art and science of cane syrup making!

The team is led by Clinton Harris and consists of Randy Batson, James Jackson, Eddie Brown, Tom McDougald, Elijah Bell, Art Blakely, Fred Frates, and Jim Melton. For more pictures and even a video of this team and their process, go to https://youtu.be/50cocf2a7hw or go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UFIFASOkaloosaExtension.

Jennifer Bearden

Jennifer Bearden is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: EXTENSION CONNECTION: The lost art of making cane syrup

North Okaloosa Medical Center names new CEO

CRESTVIEW — The board of trustees for North Okaloosa Medical Center has named Michael Nordness as the hospital’s new chief executive officer effective Jan. 17, 2022.

Nordness brings more than 18 years of healthcare leadership experience to the role.

Michael Nordness

He currently serves as chief operating officer for the 149-bed East Georgia Regional Medical Center in Statesboro, Georgia. During his tenure there, he has helped the hospital manage through COVID-19 surges while safely sustaining full operations of elective surgery and other procedures.

“Mike has demonstrated a commitment to building strong working relationships with physicians and employees to deliver high-quality care,” said Pam Meadows, Ph.D., who chairs the hospital board of trustees. “We look forward to working with him as we continue to invest in facilities and services for our growing region.”

Over his career, Nordness has served in leadership positions and worked collaboratively with employees and physicians at hospitals in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida. He has overseen growth in service lines, led construction projects to enhance facilities and patient care, recruited physicians to deepen local access to services, and supported initiatives to strengthen safety and quality.

Nordness earned his bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, master’s degree in education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and master’s in business administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: North Okaloosa Medical Center names new CEO

'These kids are impressive': City officials spend day with Crestview High School students

Crestview Mayor JB Whitten speaks to Crestview High School Student Government members Dec. 9.

CRESTVIEW — Mayor Whitten, Councilman Doug Capps and City Manager Tim Bolduc were excited to participate in the Crestview High School Student Government (SGA) Leadership Convention on Dec. 9.

The convention took place at the Robert L. F. Sikes Public Library and featured local business owners and city officials

Whitten engaged students with stories of governmental ethics and why the ability to govern freely through Home Rule is critical to the health of the city. Capps and Bolduc discussed city planning and the value of developing and supporting the local economy.

"As someone who was fascinated by local government when I was a student at CHS, it was inspiring to see that same passion today," Capps said.

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Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc takes a selfie with Crestview High School SGA members during a presentation Dec. 9.

"It was eye-opening to hear about all the work that goes into city planning," CHS senior Raj LaRue said.

SGA has been a valuable asset for generations of students at CHS. Brittany Young, the teacher responsible for leading this year's SGA program, is very passionate about providing her students with the tools they will need to succeed in life.

"I want my students to understand the value of investing in their local community and how that investment benefits not just them but others in the community as well," Young said.

SGA member Lily Rath agreed.

"Being in SGA started as just another way for me to get involved but has turned into something that has boosted my self-confidence, leadership skills, problem-solving, and ability to create relationships with others," Lily Rath said.

Crestview City Councilman Doug Capps speaks with Crestview High School Student Government members Dec. 9.

Many students participating in the event were excited to have an opportunity to engage city leaders directly, and they didn't hold back when it came time for Q and A. The students asked questions ranging from how the city addresses homelessness to the impact of the recent Tourist Development District expansion.

More than a few students left a lasting impression on the city manager.

"These kids are impressive," Bolduc said. "I look forward to seeing what they do for our community in the coming years. I may even put some of them to work."

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: 'These kids are impressive': City officials spend day with Crestview High School students