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Author: Staff Reporters

Florida Department of Health updates current formula shortage

DOH wants to ensure Floridians are kept up to date on this issue and have the correct information on how to protect your family.

When the initial recall was issued by Abbott Nutrition in February, the Department immediately reached out to retailers that accept the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits to recommend ordering an alternative supply of formula. For our medically complex children that depend on medical specialty formula, the Department found alternative products to off-set the shortage.

The current recall does not affect Florida’s primary WIC milk-based formula, but the shutdown of the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan is causing strain on the entire formula market. In a recent press release from Abbott, the company stated they could restart their factory within two weeks and get products to shelves six to eight weeks after the restart.

For Florida families in need of certain metabolic formulas, Abbott continues to release these products on an as-needed basis with a referral from a health care professional. These products were not included in the recall and have been tested and comply with all product release requirements before distribution.

According to the Health Department, impacted families should contact their health care provider or local WIC office to ensure they are getting the necessary formula.

The press release detailed several ways you can protect your family.

One way is to choose an infant formula that is safe. For more information on choosing a safe infant formula, visit the CDC and FDA pages on the topic. Another is do not make homemade infant formula. Visit the FDA’s page for more information. A third way you can keep your family safe is to not buy formula online that comes from outside the United States. This formula could be counterfeit, including fake labels with wrong use-by-dates.

A fourth way to keep them protected is to Properly prepare and store infant formula. For information on proper preparation and storage, visit the CDC’s page. The press release also advises that you properly clean, sanitize, and store infant feeding items. Visit the CDC’s page for more information. Lastly, they advise you to always wash your hands. For information on how and when to wash your hands, visit the CDC’s page.

On February 17, 2022, Abbott Nutrition initiated a voluntary recall of certain powdered infant formulas produced in their Sturgis, MI facility. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory to alert consumers to avoid purchasing or using recalled formulas.
Impacted products within the recalled lot may include Similac PM 60/40, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.
Impacted lots will start with a 22 through 37, not including the letter at the beginning. Example: L31465SH00.

According to the Department of Health, you can check to see if you have recalled formula by reviewing the lot number on the bottom of your package, checking the lot number on the Abbott website, visiting Abbott’s website, or by calling the company at 1-800-986-8540.

Do not feed your baby recalled formula. According to the Department of Health, if the lot number on your formula does not start with a 22 through 37, your formula is not impacted.

Do not throw away recalled formula. Return it to the store for a refund or exchange or call the company at 1-800-986-8540.

Upcoming resurfacing project on State Road 85 in Okaloosa County

These additional improvements and enhancements will also be made during this project:

• Sidewalk improvements

• Signalization enhancements

• Drainage upgrades

• New signage and pavement markings

During construction, drivers may encounter temporary traffic shifts, as well as intermittent and alternating lane closures between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday nights. No lane closures will be scheduled during special events at Crestview High School, Richbourg School or Northwood Elementary School. Pedestrians may be temporarily detoured while sidewalk work and repairs are performed. The project is estimated for completion in early 2023.

All activities are weather-dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling through a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Transportation District Three on the web at www.nwflroads.com, follow them on Twitter @myfdot_nwfl, Instagram @myfdot_nwfl or like them on Facebook at MyFDOTNWFL.

DHS, the new Big Brother: Mission Creep by Way Too Many Federal Agencies

Goebbels (Hitler’s Propaganda Minister) and Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) would be proud of this bold move by Democrats to decide for the rest of us what are facts and what are not.

Having lost the battle for their almost complete control of the news narrative that you can hear when Elon Musk takes over Twitter, the Deep Blue State had to strike back. While we face the looming fear of free speech being threatened again, Biden has done Orwell proud by forming the Disinformation Governance Board. In Orwell’s 1984, he called it the “Ministry of Truth.” I bet our liberal teachers of the 70s and 80s wish now that they had not made us read that book.

Not only must we live under the rule of government “scientists,” now we have our information controlled by the government. The hyper-political CDC, which was told to push the story about the COVID virus originating with bats instead of the truth (that it came from the Wuhan government-funded bio-lab), will now have an ally in misinformation. Since Joe Rogan has left the plantation and decided to think for himself, their next narrative on COVID’s roots will be that it was caused by Rogan by making a contestant eat a bat when he hosted the show Fear Factor.

Given its record, if the CDC were honest, it would say the best thing you could do for your health and sanity is not to listen to the CDC.

Biden was told to appoint this 33-year-old weirdo, Nina Jankowicz, to head up the board. She is in charge of Jerk-owiczing our chain. And you know she is a non-partisan, shrewd detector of truth since she praised Christopher Steele, the author of the fake Russian dossier on Trump, and discredited the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation. In short, we have a real winner here. Like Biden, she has been wrong on just about everything.

A piece by the National Review concluded Jankowicz had a “spotty record of identifying disinformation, as well as her considerable role in promoting it.”

To show you how delusional our government is, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was asked on CNN’s State of The Union if Jankowicz was “somebody who is neutral.” Secretary Mayorkas responded, “Eminently qualified, a renowned expert in the field of disinformation.” Dodging the question usually works on CNN. In an unusual feat of journalism, Dana Bash pressed him and asked if Jankowicz was neutral. He responded, “Absolutely so.”

I guess the thinking is that the 240,000 employees of DHS, the ill-conceived, additional agency formed under George (“Dubya”) Bush, need something to do. Our government, in its brilliance, started two wars after 9/11 and way too many federal agencies.

The wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan made no sense. Only the war between Ole Miss and Mississippi State makes less sense.

First, Americans do not let government tell us what is true and what is not true. Countries like Russia and North Korea do that, not us. Second, when partisan government hacks get to censor opposition and promote their own views, they will make a mess of it.

Amber Heard, Johnny Depp’s litigious ex who just got an endorsement deal with Chanel Number 2 (after turning down UPS’ offer: “What can brown do for you?”) should be on this “truth” board. Amber would leave less of a mess behind than Nina Janowicz will.

The ability of our government to wordsmith and not find fault in the obvious knows no end. Remember, this government that is preparing to define for us what is true cannot distinguish a woman from a man and feels that is the job of the kids’ first grade teacher. If Jeffrey Dahmer were a Democrat, our Ministry of

Truth would tell us that he was not a mass murderer, just a guy with an eating disorder.
Bill Clinton visited the White House recently to help out since his public trust numbers are much higher than those of Biden, Harris or Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton is certainly a liar, but he does it so well that, by God, he is the people’s liar.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author, and TV/radio commentator; you can reach him at Ron@RonaldHart.com or Twitter @RonaldHart.

City of Crestview joins in to celebrate Hospital Week

North Okaloosa Medical Center Human Resource Director, Brad McCullough, stated, “On behalf of everyone at NOMC, we want to express our gratitude to the Crestview Fire Department for coming out and serving our staff. The community support is what makes a great team and a city we can be proud to be a part of.”

Mayor J.B. Whitten and Fire Chief Tony Holland, along with other members of the Crestview Fire Department, joined in on Thursday, May 12, to cookout and provide lunch to all North Okaloosa Medical Center employees. There were over 1,200 hot dogs and hamburgers served that afternoon.

This year’s mayor slogan is POWERING PARTNERSHIPS and we love being able to partner with local entities to celebrate with them.

“We are honored to serve the men and women of North Okaloosa Medical Center,” Chief Tony Holland said at the close of the event. “They have always been there in our time of need, so it was a privilege to give back to them.”

Pensacola community creates campaign to reopen the National Naval Aviation Museum to all citizens

Some of the civic leaders behind the campaign include retired Navy Capt. Dean-o Fournier, former Pensacola mayors Jerry Maygarden, Ashton Hayward, Mike Wiggins and John Fogg, retired Marine Lt. Col. David Glassman with Freedom Quest, and Nancy Fetterman – widow of the late U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Jack Fetterman who served as president & CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation

“Jack worked tirelessly for decades to transform the Naval Aviation Museum into the national treasure that it is today. He’d be so disappointed to know that the public is still being denied access to it,” said Fetterman. “The entire purpose of the museum was for everyone to experience its magic and wonder, to inspire all.”

For two-and-a-half years the public has been restricted entry to a National Museum whose operations are paid for, in large part, by their hard-earned tax dollars.

Following a terrorist attack on base in December of 2019, access to the National Naval Aviation Museum, as well as the Pensacola Lighthouse, Fort Barrancas and the Blue Angels practices, has been restricted to only Department of Defense (DoD) cardholders and veterans who possess a Veterans Health Identification Card. All other U.S. citizens are still not allowed access. 

The community campaign hopes to change that.

Founded in 1963 onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, NNAM tells the story of how Pensacola became the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” and has been at the cutting edge of aerospace history for more than a century.

Since its founding, NNAM has grown to become the second-largest aviation museum in the United States. Featuring more than 150 fully-restored military aircraft, thousands of artifacts, and dozens of military exhibits on display, plus a giant screen movie theater, virtual reality flight simulators, interactive rides, and more – NNAM is considered a top 10 attraction in Florida and the leading tourist attraction between Orlando and New Orleans. Its visitors come from every state in the U.S., with more than 70 percent visiting from outside Florida.

A recent economic impact study done by Matrix for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation (NAMF) found that NNAM’s visitorship declined by 64% in January and February of 2020 due to restricted base access. That equates to approximately 342 total jobs and $11 million in labor income lost due to the enhanced security measures stemming from the December 2019 terrorist attack on base. The NAMF study also found that local industry sectors lost an estimated $31.5 million in gross sales between 2019 and 2020 directly related to declining visitor traffic.

Visits to the Pensacola base’s historic attractions have always been treasured by tourists and locals alike before access became locked off. Tens of millions of citizens have visited the National Naval Aviation Museum, and other base attractions, for decades without the occurrence of a single significant security incident.

“It’s time to cut through the red tape and get our museum reopened to everyone, once again,” said Fetterman.

For more information, visit openourmuseum.org.

FWC reaches major milestone

In 2018, Hurricane Michael depleted more than 90% of the shoal bass population in the Chipola River. As a direct management action following the hurricane, the FWC passed an Executive Order that suspended harvest and possession of shoal bass. In 2019, FWC staff recommended this regulation be adopted into rule to support ongoing conservation efforts for this species. Currently, harvest and possession of shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries remains prohibited. 

“This project embodies the necessity for strategic long-term thinking in conservation and the vital role it plays, not only in word, but also in being able to implement these actions,” said Chris Paxton, Regional Fisheries Administrator for Florida’s northwest region. “Thankfully we had already been working on how to spawn these fish in case ‘something happens one day’ to this isolated population. Well, it happened in the form of a Category 5 hurricane.” 

Shoal bass are one of four of Florida’s native black bass species, and this effort marks the first time genetically pure shoal bass have been successfully raised in an FWC fish hatchery. Shoal bass are also a Florida Species of Greatest Conservation Need, which refers to native animals whose populations are of concern and are at risk or declining. The goal of raising and releasing these fish is to enhance the wild population of shoal bass to help maintain the population’s genetic purity and aid in the long-term conservation of this unique species of Florida black bass. 

The unique conservation management action of raising and releasing thousands of shoal bass fingerlings is a result of collaborative work by dedicated staff from the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management and Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The shoal bass were raised at FWC’s Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center near Holt.  

“Shoal bass have very specific habitat needs and it is a major milestone to successfully spawn and grow these fish to a size suitable for stocking,” said Bob DeMauro, Hatchery Manager at FWC’s Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center. “It is an incredible success to raise these riverine fish in a still-water hatchery pond when they are used to flowing water and limestone shoals in their natural habitat.” 

FWC’s freshwater fisheries biologists will continue to monitor the Chipola River shoal bass population and evaluate the contribution of these stocking efforts through genetic testing. 

“This is a great example of research and management partners working together to protect and conserve this native black bass species,” said Andy Strickland, freshwater fisheries biologist with FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

The Chipola River is the only waterbody in Florida with a known naturally reproducing shoal bass population. This spring-fed river originates just north of Marianna, flowing south for 95 miles through Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties, where it joins the Apalachicola River.

ABC Pediatrics of Okaloosa puts children first

ABC Pediatrics of Okaloosa specializes in medical primary care to children of all ages. A colorful and caring practice, ABC Pediatrics provides healthcare to newborns, infants, toddlers and school age children up to 18 years of age.

Located at 600 Hospital Drive in Crestview, ABC Pediatrics puts their patients first. Owner Dr. Luis Gomez and his team of medical professionals create a comfortable atmosphere to provide the highest quality health care to the children and families they serve. They strive to build long-term, partnering relationships built on trust and mutual respect.

Dr. Gomez is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and opened ABC Pediatrics in Crestview in May of 2000. After completing his residency at the University of Florida, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, he became a Sacred Heart physician in 1993. Dr. Gomez is very passionate about pediatrics and his patients. Being a father of five has taught him a lot about pediatrics.

Board-Certified Pediatrician Dr. Alberto Barbon joined ABC Pediatrics in 2004. He completed his residency at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Detroit Michigan, affiliated with Wayne State University and has over 20 years of pediatrics expertise.

Another qualified member of the ABC team is Certified Nurse Practitioner Lela Stroud. She received her master’s degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina and her post-master’s certificate in pediatrics from the University of South Alabama. Lela is an instructor for resuscitation. She has been working at ABC Pediatrics since 2008.

The medical team at ABC Pediatrics wants their families to consider their practice as a total resource for their child’s healthcare needs. They are committed to continuity of care through their physician’s and nurse practitioners.

Their well care and health maintenance services include routine check-ups, vaccinations including influenza shots, developmental screening, camp and sports physicals, preschool and school exams, college exams, growth issues, such as poor growth, short stature, and obesity, long term follow up of premature infants and new mommy visits.

ABC Pediatrics believes in prevention of disease and promotion of healthy lifestyles for all children. They strive to be an efficient and cost-effective practice in meeting the needs of children during times of health as well as in time of illness.

The office treats all common childhood illnesses, including sore throat, cold symptoms, breathing difficulty, fever, rashes, earaches, and more. They also treat constipation, skin disorders, rashes, eczema, bedwetting, urinary and stool incontinence.

ABC Pediatrics is available for same-day appointments if needed. They also accept most insurance plans including Tricare Prime. If you are not sure if your insurance plan is accepted, please call the office at 850-689-0900 for more information.

If you are interested in becoming a patient, would like to find out more about their practice or would like to schedule an appointment, contact ABC Pediatrics today.

ABC Pediatrics
600 Hospital Drive
Crestview, FL, 32539
850-689-0900
www.abcpediatricsofokaloosa.com

Leader in life: Maj. Gen. Robert ‘ChedBob’ Chedister passes away at 72

It typified ChedBob’s take-charge personality when the need arose, whether throughout his 33-year career in the Air Force, or during his civilian life.

ChedBob — his call sign during his pilot years, the result of an ally from a foreign air force misunderstanding his name, he said — passed away May 2 while home recuperating from a medical procedure.

“All pilots going through Test Pilot School come out with call sign names,” his wife of 49 years, Trecia, said. “He was very proud of his.”
“A true people-person and motivator, his leadership style was contagious, as he set the example from the front, encouraging and empowering others to perform at their very highest levels,” his family stated in his obituary.

ChedBob is survived by Trecia and sons Dr. Gabriel Chedister, Bradley Chedister and Oluyomi Faminu; sister, Barbara Cowan; and grandchildren Allie Chedister, Gabriel Faminu and Brooke Hancock.

He was selected by former Crestview Mayor David Cadle to represent him in the community’s Sister City, Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, during May 2015 celebrations commemorating the cities’ 20-year partnership under Sister Cities International.

Upon retirement he eschewed his uniform, explaining, “Uniforms are for the people on active duty.” This confounded his French hosts, who delight in pomp and ceremony. On the morning of a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of France’s World War II liberation, ChedBob was not found among military veterans and dignitaries.

“Zhenerale Shedistair? Zenerale Shedistair? Where eez zee Zhenerale Shedistair?” called a frantic official over the PA, who wouldn’t let the ceremonies begin until the American military representative took his place up front.

ChedBob, instead, was socializing with his French hosts in the back of the throng, never expecting he should to be up front. Once found, he presented himself promptly to the ranks of standard-bearing French military veterans, civilian dignitaries, and uniformed public safety officials.

During his Laurel Hill church’s activities such as its annual Arts & Heritage Festival and Living Nativity, he’d often take charge of the volunteers, directing teams to erect tents, props and fences, then sitting back to let everyone do his or her task, much as he did in the Air Force.

At church suppers, he’d regale people at his table with stories of his hunting and fishing prowess or his flying years, once telling of the time a jet’s joystick came off in his hand while in midflight. As he described searching for a screwdriver to put it back in place, he commented, “I was getting a little nervous about staying up.”

“I would’ve been more nervous about coming down,” one of his fellow congregants replied.

His sense of humor delighted all who knew him. Giving a tour of his and Trecia’s rambling Laurel Hill country home — a veritable museum of his Air Force years — he proudly showed off one of the bathrooms that overlooked the wooded property.

“It makes a great deer hunting blind,” he said. “And it’s handy if you have to use the pot while waiting for the deer.”

It was not unusual during Laurel Hill Presbyterian’s “life in the church” moment for ChedBob to announce, to chuckles and mock admonition from the pulpit, “You won’t see me the next couple Sundays because deer (or turkey) season is opening.”

Another time, when a guest pastor failed to show up, a couple elders held the service themselves, with ChedBob offering a sermon on self-reliance he adapted from a recent professional presentation.

“ChedBob was a great man, a dedicated patriot, and an extremely loved father and grandfather,” Trecia said. “His legacy is honored to be carried on by his family, and all were blessed for the time spent in his company.”

The family is planning a July 29 memorial service for Gen. Chedister at the Hsu Educational Foundation in Fort Walton Beach.

Annual Crestview High student art show now on display

The school’s annual student art show provides a wonderful insight into the creativity unleashed in the CHS art program under instructors Lori Phillips and Alex Pottinger, while simultaneously introducing the community to rising young artists from whom even greater works are eagerly anticipated as they pursue their muses into college.

Using media including tempera, pen-and-ink, scratchboard, charcoal and acrylic, two-dimensional works on display run the gamut from self-portraits to pop subjects — including those UNO-playing dogs by Grace Bostick, yummy-looking mochi by Lilly King and an impressive self-portrait by Robert Sagaya called “Dragons and Mullets” that’s infused with an evocative golden glow.

On the Sandra Dreaden Gallery Wall, advance placement (AP) students, primarily seniors, showcase several works each, including Paiton Prescott’s acrylics that incorporate elements including buttons and flowers. Evan Hyde’s “Vengeful Swordsman” is drawing his blade from beneath a billowing coat in an action-filled drawing rendered in pencil and charcoal.

Three-dimensional works exhibited in the library lobby include a variety of colorful and creative sculptures in various media and form a delightfully vibrant welcome to the facility’s visitors.

The Crestview High student art show runs through May 16 and may be viewed during the Crestview Public Library’s normal opening hours. Awards for the student winning works will be announced during the mid-week National Art Honor Society induction. For library hours, visit www.cityofcrestview.org/178/Library or call 850.682.4432.

Q&A with U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz

How did you meet your wife, Ginger?
I met Ginger at Mara Lago. Ginger was there with her mother attending an event supporting Trump. I was there because Kimberly Guilfoyle and Donald Trump, Jr. had invited me there to Kimberly’s birthday party. Kimberly joked that I didn’t have a date and Ginger offered to go with me as my date for food and dancing and President Trump immediately said that was the one for me and I needed to do whatever I could to get Ginger to hang out with me. In a lot of ways, it was COVID love. She was from California and typically not easy to execute a courtship across an entire continent, but since California was shut down and Florida was wide open, since her work was remote, I said why don’t you come to the panhandle, our beach is open, and restaurants are open – that was a big part of my pitch. As much as it was my own magnetism – I have Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis to thank for very different reasons. If Cali had been open, I don’t know that I could have gotten her here.
I just love being married. You hear throughout your life as a single in your 30’s – marriage is the old ball and chain. I found marriage to be the greatest institution that I’ve been able to be a part of. You are in the same canoe with someone. There is teamwork and love that grows from that that is unlike anything else I have ever experienced in my life.

What are you working on for our district right now?
Two big priorities: Accelerating the delivery of new helicopters to the Whiting Field mission and expanding the role of Northwest Florida in developing hypersonic weapon systems.
I questioned the secretary of defense very rigorously where America falls vs. China with hypersonic weapon systems. And from what I can tell you unequivocally is that we are behind. One reason we are behind is because we spent so much time on the global war on terror figuring out innovative ways to engage in urban warfare and counterterrorism and we lost sight of our pacing challenge. China wasn’t trying to install democracy in the caves of central Asia, they were developing and deploying hypersonic weapon systems. Russia has now in the Ukraine war used hypersonic weapons for the first time in the history of the world in combat. Our challenge is how to go from research and development to fielding those systems. Today, we do far too much of this testing in the Pacific Rim. And that presents real intelligence vulnerabilities. It is not a good idea to be testing the weapons we might have to one day use, God forbid, in a conflict with China over the Pacific Rim. The northern Gulf provides the perfect platform for this work but because hypersonic weapons go a lot farther and a lot faster, the envelope we have for testing must expand. I spent eleven years of my public life fighting against oil drilling in the northern Gulf, but it isn’t just about protecting what we already have, we actually have to grow southward beyond the Florida Keys to protect the mission here and to grow our mission at Hurlburt, Eglin, and NAS Pensacola. We work every day to try to get more funding to upgrade the telemetry and the radar systems, not just on Navarre Beach and Okaloosa Island but actually in Panacea and the Keys because that’s what allows that mission to utilize the full Gulf. During my time in Congress, we have obtained tens of millions of dollars in additional resources to build out that testing envelope. And, we have by order of President Trump a ten-year ban on any additional energy exploration off the coast of Florida. So now, I want to grow that, and I want to build a first of its kind weapons-integrated technology center in Northwest Florida so that this becomes the hub of hypersonic research and development. We got the first $40 million for that center in the last National Defense Authorization Act but that is a half billion dollar project so I have to work against that goal to get more and more money to build out a weapons center here. That is a major feature of the military mission in Northwest Florida.

At Whiting, we have to get more new aircraft to do our training mission.
When I was first elected to this job, I went to Whiting for my first visit and the instructors were telling me that those were the aircraft that they trained. Not, those were the platforms, those were the exact aircraft. We have endeavored to get the Navy to get an off-the-shelf solution, not the procurement of a new aircraft that may take a generation but an off-the-shelf solution from a commercial entity so that we can have high end digital assets for training. Leonardo won that award and we used Triumph funds to ensure Leonardo wasn’t doing building, operations and maintenance in some other place for our mission and that they were doing it at Whiting in Santa Rosa. Great plan – the problem is that we have had a half dozen aircraft delivered. We are behind. Part of that, Leonardo is saying supply chain issues and the manufacturing of these systems. But I’m going to Whiting in the next couple weeks to get a mission brief on how we can accelerate that. It is a major safety issue for our pilots, but it is also a way to deepen the roots of that training mission in Santa Rosa County. The Army would love to have all of the helicopter training at Fort Rucker and so we need to fend them off with a chair on most days. However, if we get that investment and get faster delivery of those aircraft, then the mission at Whiting is more up to date and more capable and secure for a generation.

Those two are at the top of the list.
You find me today preparing for the testimony of the homeland security director, Mayorkas, and what I expect is that democrats in this hearing will try to over-emphasize what the Biden administration is trying to do to combat white supremacy and I think they will under emphasize the crisis at the border. I was at the border in Yuma, Arizona several weeks ago and about half of the migrants I encountered were on their way to Florida. I told them to follow the sun west until they found it. We are not just a magnet for people escaping the liberal governments of Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, and Jersey. We are also a magnet for illegal immigration. This shows us when you have hundreds of thousands of people every month coming into our country illegally, we are going to get a really high share of that. We are a border state, too, in that regard. I try to figure out how to ask sharp questions. In the Congress I am known as someone who asks tough questions. I view the five minutes I have as a very precious resource of Northwest Florida, and I want to make sure that we use it well.

Next week: Topics include Florida Power and Light (FPL) and Transportation

And people are on paths that they don’t even know they are on, it is a path that God has set out for them. I find that my faith is a way to inspire my imagination about the good that can be done. In government and politics, the daily grind can often get you down. For me – it raises the ceiling and frankly, the floor. In tough times for our country, the district, whether it is an oil spill or a hurricane and a local matter, I always believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. In my life that has been true and the path for Northwest Florida, that has been true.

How did you meet your wife, Ginger?
I met Ginger at Mara Lago. Ginger was there with her mother attending an event supporting Trump. I was there because Kimberly Guilfoyle and Donald Trump, Jr. had invited me there to Kimberly’s birthday party. Kimberly joked that I didn’t have a date and Ginger offered to go with me as my date for food and dancing and President Trump immediately said that was the one for me and I needed to do whatever I could to get Ginger to hang out with me. In a lot of ways, it was COVID love. She was from California and typically not easy to execute a courtship across an entire continent, but since California was shut down and Florida was wide open, since her work was remote, I said why don’t you come to the panhandle, our beach is open, and restaurants are open – that was a big part of my pitch. As much as it was my own magnetism – I have Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis to thank for very different reasons. If Cali had been open, I don’t know that I could have gotten her here.
I just love being married. You hear throughout your life as a single in your 30’s – marriage is the old ball and chain. I found marriage to be the greatest institution that I’ve been able to be a part of. You are in the same canoe with someone. There is teamwork and love that grows from that that is unlike anything else I have ever experienced in my life.

What are you working on for our district right now?
Two big priorities: Accelerating the delivery of new helicopters to the Whiting Field mission and expanding the role of Northwest Florida in developing hypersonic weapon systems.
I questioned the secretary of defense very rigorously where America falls vs. China with hypersonic weapon systems. And from what I can tell you unequivocally is that we are behind. One reason we are behind is because we spent so much time on the global war on terror figuring out innovative ways to engage in urban warfare and counterterrorism and we lost sight of our pacing challenge. China wasn’t trying to install democracy in the caves of central Asia, they were developing and deploying hypersonic weapon systems. Russia has now in the Ukraine war used hypersonic weapons for the first time in the history of the world in combat. Our challenge is how to go from research and development to fielding those systems. Today, we do far too much of this testing in the Pacific Rim. And that presents real intelligence vulnerabilities. It is not a good idea to be testing the weapons we might have to one day use, God forbid, in a conflict with China over the Pacific Rim. The northern Gulf provides the perfect platform for this work but because hypersonic weapons go a lot farther and a lot faster, the envelope we have for testing must expand. I spent eleven years of my public life fighting against oil drilling in the northern Gulf, but it isn’t just about protecting what we already have, we actually have to grow southward beyond the Florida Keys to protect the mission here and to grow our mission at Hurlburt, Eglin, and NAS Pensacola. We work every day to try to get more funding to upgrade the telemetry and the radar systems, not just on Navarre Beach and Okaloosa Island but actually in Panacea and the Keys because that’s what allows that mission to utilize the full Gulf. During my time in Congress, we have obtained tens of millions of dollars in additional resources to build out that testing envelope. And, we have by order of President Trump a ten-year ban on any additional energy exploration off the coast of Florida. So now, I want to grow that, and I want to build a first of its kind weapons-integrated technology center in Northwest Florida so that this becomes the hub of hypersonic research and development. We got the first $40 million for that center in the last National Defense Authorization Act but that is a half billion dollar project so I have to work against that goal to get more and more money to build out a weapons center here. That is a major feature of the military mission in Northwest Florida.

At Whiting, we have to get more new aircraft to do our training mission.
When I was first elected to this job, I went to Whiting for my first visit and the instructors were telling me that those were the aircraft that they trained. Not, those were the platforms, those were the exact aircraft. We have endeavored to get the Navy to get an off-the-shelf solution, not the procurement of a new aircraft that may take a generation but an off-the-shelf solution from a commercial entity so that we can have high end digital assets for training. Leonardo won that award and we used Triumph funds to ensure Leonardo wasn’t doing building, operations and maintenance in some other place for our mission and that they were doing it at Whiting in Santa Rosa. Great plan – the problem is that we have had a half dozen aircraft delivered. We are behind. Part of that, Leonardo is saying supply chain issues and the manufacturing of these systems. But I’m going to Whiting in the next couple weeks to get a mission brief on how we can accelerate that. It is a major safety issue for our pilots, but it is also a way to deepen the roots of that training mission in Santa Rosa County. The Army would love to have all of the helicopter training at Fort Rucker and so we need to fend them off with a chair on most days. However, if we get that investment and get faster delivery of those aircraft, then the mission at Whiting is more up to date and more capable and secure for a generation.

Those two are at the top of the list.
You find me today preparing for the testimony of the homeland security director, Mayorkas, and what I expect is that democrats in this hearing will try to over-emphasize what the Biden administration is trying to do to combat white supremacy and I think they will under emphasize the crisis at the border. I was at the border in Yuma, Arizona several weeks ago and about half of the migrants I encountered were on their way to Florida. I told them to follow the sun west until they found it. We are not just a magnet for people escaping the liberal governments of Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, and Jersey. We are also a magnet for illegal immigration. This shows us when you have hundreds of thousands of people every month coming into our country illegally, we are going to get a really high share of that. We are a border state, too, in that regard. I try to figure out how to ask sharp questions. In the Congress I am known as someone who asks tough questions. I view the five minutes I have as a very precious resource of Northwest Florida, and I want to make sure that we use it well.

Next week: Topics include Florida Power and Light (FPL) and Transportation

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