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Tag: Business

City in ‘good’ financial health, plans budget workshop

“We’ve been very reactive the last couple of years. This year, we’re going to change that,” Bolduc said, explaining that he would like each department head to present a five-year plan for his or her department as well as its needs for the 2022-23 budget year during the workshop. He also expects to present updated sales tax projections and propose new projects to be funded with the unanticipated local sales tax surplus.

He also asked the council to cancel its July regular meeting to focus solely on the budget workshop.

The council approved Bolduc’s request and agreed he should schedule the workshop for a Wednesday in July. Bolduc said the workshop meeting likely will be held at the Robert L. F. Sikes Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Drive, and will be open to the public.

The city currently has a total budget of almost $57.3 million; the general fund, over which the council has the most control, is about $21.6 million.

The council also approved a resolution amending the current budget to reflect a $29,200 donation from the Crestview Rotary Club to help fund the Wilson Street Splash Pad and establishing a budget of $167,995 for the city’s Animal Control Department.

‘We’re in the animal control business’

Bolduc said the city has hired two employees for its new Animal Control Department, a kennel technician and an administrator, and hope to add another kennel tech soon. The Laurel Hill facility is open, and the Crestview facility is “getting closer,” Bolduc added.

“We’re wide open,” he told councilmembers. “We’re taking animals in, getting their shots and spaying and neutering and all that. We’re in the animal control business for sure.”

Since taking responsibility for animal control services from a contractor earlier this year, Bolduc said staff has rescued “everything from ducks to owls to raccoons.”

The city will post its animal adoption policy to its social media platforms soon, Bolduc said, encouraging anyone who can to adopt rescue animals.

Golf club exceeding expectations

Despite opening without a restaurant and only nine playable holes, Blackwater Golf Club has almost doubled revenue projections, Bolduc said. Staff had projected total revenue of about $20,000 for the golf club’s first month in operation; instead, the city collected almost $40,000, fueled primarily by the popular Toptracer Driving Range.

The city bought the 129-acre Foxwood Golf Course in August 2020 and is spending about $2.5 million of the city’s reserve funds to renovate the property. Bolduc said the final nine holes should be open to the public this week, with the restaurant scheduled to open by June 1.

Honoring Carver-Hill’s legacy

The council also approved allowing the Carver-Hill Memorial and Historical Society to use city facilities for a basketball tournament May 13-14 to benefit the society. Crestview’s Carver School, named for African-American agricultural scientist and inventor George Washington Carver, opened in 1915. In 1954, the school became known as the Carver-Hill School to honor Edward Hill, a pastor who fought for better funding for Black schools. The school educated African-American children before Okaloosa County fully desegregated its school system in 1968. The city established the Carver-Hill Museum at Allen Park, which is managed by the historical society, to honor the school’s heritage.

Photos: Dollar stores doubling in Laurel Hill

Construction is underway on a new dollar store along State Road 85 in Laurel Hill. The new store is just down the road from a Dollar General store. Photo by Wendy Victora Rudman
City officials say this is the concept for the new store being built in Laurel Hill, just down the road from a Dollar General. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Big new gas station, convenience store coming to Baker

The small town of Baker is growing, with a 4,273-square foot convenience store planned and gas station planned for the corner of State Road 4 and Galliver Cutoff.

A development order for the project was signed in mid-December and a site plan has been approved by the county, according to the development order. The gas station will be just across Galliver Cutoff from the Ritz Food Mart.

Commissioner Nathan Boyles said that he believes that the new store at that location will be a CEFCO.

Tara Geiger grew up in Baker and has worked at the Ritz Food Mart for 20 years. She said she’s not worried about the impact a new gas station will have right across the street.

Five lots on Georgia Avenue between State Road 4 and Madison Avenue were sold in August. No paperwork has been submitted, but the parcels were purchased by Big Boss XVII, which is affiliated with Phillips Oil company. Big Boss has convenience stores across the Panhandle. Photo by Wendy Victora Rudman

When she was growing up, there were three convenience stores in Baker.

“I felt like there was enough business for them,” she said. “I’m not worried.”

A second convenience store and gas station is likely going in at the south end of State Road 4 and U.S. Highway 90. Boyles said a parcel there was rezoned to allow for a new gas station and a small strip of retail outlets.

But he’d not heard anything though about the August sale of five parcels near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and State Road 4. They were purchased Big Boss XXVII, LLC, which is affiliated with Phillips Oil company.

A request to Big Boss, LLC for more information was not immediately returned. Big Boss LLC has convenience stores in various locations across the Panhandle, including Destin and Niceville.

Those parcels, which are on the northeast side of the intersection, are now home to several empty buildings.

Two of the lots were vacant, but the others were once home to a restaurant named Dusty’s and the Baker Animal Clinic, the property appraisers records indicate.

Photo by Wendy Victora Rudman

The building at 1317 Georgia Avenue was built in 1944 and includes both office/storefront space and an apartment, according to the property appraiser’s website.

County officials said no development orders or site plans have been submitted for the parcels, which total less than an acre and sold in August for prices ranging from $32,500 to $216,000, according to the Okaloosa County Property Appraisers website. The total was just over $500,000.

Boyles said it’s common for business owners to keep information about new developments “close to their vest,” since once an elected official is told it becomes public record.

“Sometimes I learn about new projects in my district from the newspaper, time to time,” he said.

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