Randy Houser – Another Big Name comes to Tootsies in Pier Park

021909_randy_houserAs the word gets out, Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Pier Park continues its success with another appearance from a big name in the world of honky tonk and country music.  Randy Houser recently showed up and played a few sets as fans watched and marveled at how the word has gotten out that little ‘ol Panama City Beach is the place to go if you are a country star and are wanting to go to the beach.

With our sugar white sands and awesome winter weather, who wouldn’t want to come here, right?  Alright, enough with the PCB commercial stuff.

According to his web site, Randy Houser was born and raised in central Mississippi.  His mentor and main motivation for his musical career came from his father, who was also a singer/songwriter.

With several videos on CMT.com, he seems to be quite popular and definately a welcome addition to the many that have come and will come in the future to Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Pier Park.

Resort Collection – New Community Service Program

Junior Executive Committee (Jr. EC) of Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort, a property of The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach, announces a new community service program to involve all resort staff.

The Jr. EC is a new committee of management staff at Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort, comprised of eight individuals each representing a department of the resort. The committee has taken on the roll of community awareness and support by engaging the more than 300 employees to participate.

The committee’s first endeavor was a food and clothing drive for the Panama City Rescue Mission. The committee organized a companywide drive encouraging each department to compete for the largest donation.

“We are thrilled at the leadership and initiative of this group,” said Tom Sparks, general manager of The Resort Collection. “We hope this will be the beginning to more community involvement on behalf of our staff.”

The food and clothing drive produced more than $1000 dollars of non-perishable food items and 14 articles of clothing for the Mission. The donations were picked up by the Panama City Rescue Mission last Friday February 6.

The Jr. EC is working on several projects for the remainder of the year, planning to complete one community service project each quarter.

More than a Sport, It's a Movement

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PrintPCB Sand Sports in partnership with the legendary Sharkys Restaurant and Tiki Bar along with Towne of Seahaven are preparing to add Beach Tennis and Beach Volleyball to their menu for FUN. The first partnership will begin with a “first ever” healthy Spring Break program for college students who visit the beach March 1st-18th with an introduction and “team challenge” to College vs. College competition. Beach Tennis is essentially doubles tennis played sand. Played on regulation beach volleyball court, and using regulation tennis racquets and a slightly depressurized tennis ball, players volley for points without letting the ball touch the sand.

Beach Tennis is easy to learn and most newcomers to the game can be up and running in as little as 30 minutes. Played at its highest pro level, however it is a fast-paced, intensely competitive game that delivers an amazing workout, even for hardcore athletes.

021909_sand_tennis_logo_smBeach Tennis USA and PCB Sand Sports will be at the beach offering training, along with Pros from Tampa to provide coaching with play leading up to a final tournament challenge on Thursdays each week to give the students something fun to maintain their goal to meet each other and play.

In 2009 Beach Tennis USA will be enlisting the services of students around the country to serve as BTUSA University Directors, who will serve as “brand ambassadors” at their schools and help promote the growth of beach tennis through intramural programs.

Panama City Beach will be the first “event” promoting this concept.  Approach to the colleges and is expected to continue to grow with one of the “hottest” new sports in America to foster further events and competition leading into a healthier approach to Spring Break for college students and families who visit our area.

Sharkys will maintain two permanent nets for Beach Tennis and will continue to partner with PCB Sand Sports to develop programming for leagues, tournaments and events
to lead into family spring break and summer. For more information contact beachresearch@yahoo.com.

Okaloosa's Northwest Florida Regional Airport Not Closing

Apparently Okaloosa’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport is not closing, and Okaloosa Airport officials are getting quite snappy about it.  I’ve heard this very rumor for quite some time and have actually participated in some of the speculation.

Some believe that it all started January of 2008 with the Panama City Beach’s Chamber let out an email blast to members that stated that Eglin Air Force Base would shut down commercial airport operations in order to preserve Eglin’s incoming Joint Strike Fighter mission.  I personally remember the email and thought it quite a bold move, but was unable to substantiate the statement.

Other locals to Panama City and Panama City Beach have been known to question whether the Okaloosa airport would stay open for much longer, including well-known attorney, William Harrison and former Panama City Beach Mayor and local news show host Lee Sullivan.  Recently, Sullivan had Panama City Bay County International Airport Director Randy Curtis on his show and made the comment that in the future Okaloosa would have airspace issues with Eglin that may lead to complications in commercial operations.  Harrison’s opinion is that it is of the best interest of the Florida Panhandle that Eglin’s military and the Joint Strike Fighter mission is of the highest priority.

Currently the Okaloosa County Commission is investigating the possibility of legal action against the Panama City Bay County International Airport and have also supported seeking the resignation of Jerry Ray from Coastal Vision 3000.  Ray is one of the VP’s of St. Joe and a prominent supporter of the New Panama City Airport.

Okaloosa’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport Director Greg Donovan said that they will be launching an advertising campaign to counter the rumors.  Recently the Air Force renewed their lease with Northwest Florida Regional through 2032.

2009 Business Expo at Edgewater Beach Resort

It’s that time again…for the Panama City Beach Chamber’s Annual Business Expo, and this year Panama City Beach’s first family entertainment complex, Pier Park, is presenting the event.  On Tuesday, April 21, 2009 the 16th Annual Business Expo will be held at Edgewater Beach Resort, from 3:00 to 7:00 pm.  Hundreds of area businesses will be showcasing their newest, most innovative products and services.  Over three thousand people attended the last Business Expo.

For 2009, Business Expo explores the world of GREEN, with “The Nature of Business” as its central theme.  While not distinctively a “save the planet” event, the Panama City Beach Chamber hopes to engage in ‘sustainability’ and ‘going green’ increasingly, and promote those practices in all of its events.  Exhibitor Booths cost $250 for Chamber members and $450 for non-members.  Double and Triple Booths are also available.

This year the Expo is charging a $1-per-person Admission Fee, which will go to the Chamber’s Education Foundation helping local schools.  For more information call the Panama City Beach Chamber at (850) 235-1159.

Coastal Vision 3000 Hits Membership Milestone

Coastal Vision 3000, the private, non-profit regional membership organization for THE Beach, has hit a membership milestone celebrating its 100th member. The organization encompasses Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin Counties and was established to create a consistent, branded identity for the region known as “THE Beach.”

Since its start in late 2007, Coastal Vision 3000 has grown from a group of regional visionaries to over 100 businesses, organizations and individuals representing over 150 companies, working together in a unified front to present THE Beach to new markets both nationally and internationally. The aim is to promote the work of local tourism and economic development professionals and to grow the market to its fullest potential.

“Membership in Coastal Vision 3000/THE Beach is open to all businesses and organizations in our seven-county region,” said Mel Ponder, executive director for Coastal Vision 3000. “Members benefit in many ways, not only for themselves, but for the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast region as a whole.”

Ponder said that marketing the entire region under one “halo” brand means businesses and organizations not only strengthen and enhance their own marketing efforts, but also help ensure long-term economic growth and create a tourist destination that is identifiable throughout the world.

Coastal Vision 3000 offers five Membership levels; Advocates $100, Champions $500, Stewards $2,500, Trustees $5,000, and Founders $15,000. Each level offers Members a variety of benefits, including a twice-monthly informational e-newsletter, a listing on THE Beach’s award winning website (www.thebeachfla.com), use of THE Beach’s standardized graphics and logos, membership meetings, and the opportunity to participate in THE Beach’s national and international marketing efforts.

For more information about membership in or goals and initiatives of Coastal Vision 3000 and THE Beach, visit http://www.thebeachfla.com or call Coastal Vision 3000 at 850-337-3469

Bay County Commission Passes 5th Cent

With the likeness of a modern game or reality show, the suspense was lingering and drawn out.  Chairman Girvin surely is a student of this dramaticism.  The presentation from Dan Rowe, Executive Director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) and President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) was short and not even necessarily sweet.  It was almost as though he was there only because he needed to be.  Not that Rowe was unwilling, but it seemed apparent that this was all part of a strategy.

Last month the Bay County Commission passed with a majority vote to increase the bed tax collected from 3 cents to 4 cents.  In order to pass the 5th cent increase, a super majority vote was required, that is to say that 4 of the 5 commissioners had to vote in approval.  The lack of the super majority support on the 4th cent influenced Commissioner Mike Thomas to request that voting on the 5th be tabled until the regularly scheduled meeting that was held today so that his fellow commissioners could further educate themselves on the ramifications of this decision.

Out of the six that spoke up about the bed tax increase during the public comment section, 4 spoke in opposition of the increase and 2 spoke in approval.  Among the two one worked for St. Joe, and the other was Chairman Tannehill of the Airport Authority.  Tannehill mentioned that we cannot overlook this opportunity to help Bay County grow.  “Everybody asked for it, we’re giving it to them, we need to be sure it’s gonna work,” he continued.

After Chairman Tannehill spoke, Chairman Girvin asked if anyone else had any comments.  “This room is full of people that have concern either for or against this issue, I can’t beleive that nobody has anything else to say about it,” he said.

There were three motions total, with the first two from Commissioner Mike Thomas, which ultimately failed to carry.  The first motion was to allow the increase to pass with no restrictions, the second was to limit the bed tax to 5 years (the same as the resolution), but to allow the TDC to spend it as they see fit.

The third motion was made by Commissioner and TDC Board Member Mike Nelson.  Discussion led everyone down the road that resulted in some flexible conversation on the part of Chairman Girvin.  He seemed to be making suggestions as to what he could agree with.  Commissioner Bill Dozier at one point asked Chairman Girvin “I can’t be comfortable with the motion until you are comfortable with it, are you comfortable with it?”  Girvin: “Well, I don’t know!”  I had to chuckle as at this point, it seemed as though he was being purposefully suspenseful.

Commissioner Nelson’s initial motion was unclear and after many minutes of conversation it was restructured to adopt the Resolution that the TDC approved yesterday and  to approve the increase.

With no discussion left, Chairman Girvin ordered the roll called.  Going through the ranks, Thomas-yes, Dozier-yes, Gainer-no, Nelson-yes, Girvin- “Before I vote, I would like to make a comment.  No matter which way I go on this, someone will be upset.  I have great respect for many of the people on both sides of this issue,” he said.  “However I have to make the decision that is best for Bay County, as these are perilous times for us, and we need all the help we can get.  On one of the sides, not everyone has been completely honest with me.  I think we would be in err if we didn’t at least give it a try for five years, and with that said, I vote YES.”

When his vote came through after a suspenseful comment, you could hear the crowd sigh and almost burst into applause.  Tourism industry leaders could be seen with ear to ear grins as a seeming victory had been won, as if this was some sort of battle.  I’ve not always agreed in the past with the way the TDC has spent money, and I’m sure I won’t always agree with them in the future, but I think this was a good move and an innovative way to move forward.

Having said that, I just want to be clear on how this money will be spent, as there seemed to be some confusion at the meeting that these funds could be used to directly subsidise an airline – and I don’t think this is the case, as it was explained yesterday (someone, please chime in if I am incorrect).

This 5th cent will be used for advertising, in a cooperative relationship with an airline(s) that may have an interest in flying into our new airport.  For example: a string of advertisements in Chicago that would advertise special rates with X airline on trips to Panama City Beach, FL.  This would give incentive to the airline that their flights here would be well occupied and increase the number of people exposed to our beautiful area.

Good form Commissioners and Board members, good form!

TDC Approves Resolution for 5th Cent Bed Tax Use

In what was quite possibly the quickest TDC meeting that I’ve ever attended, the Panama City Beach Tourist Development Council unanimously (with the exception of Buddy Wilkes – who is out of the country) approved the adopted resolution to the use of the 5th cent of the bed tax.  The tax increase is up for vote by the Bay County Commissioners tomorrow morning.

Florida statute mandates that TDC money levied through bed tax collections cannot be used “seat-guarantees”, but can be used for marketing purposes.  Spefically with the application proposed, the money will be used for cooperative advertising with the low cost airlines targeting potential visitors to our area that would use the low cost carrier(s) that would fly into our new airport. If the increase in approved tomorrow this will allow 15 months of time to market to future potential feeder markets and hopefully give a low-cost carrier additional incentive and comfort in coming to the new Panama City Bay County International Airport.

Bay County Commissioner Mike Nelson, who is also a member of the Tourist Development Council said that he thought this would be much more acceptable to the County Commission.

One of the stipulations to the resolution is that at the end of 5 years, the TDC would need to come back to the County Commission to vote on the 5th cent again, otherwise, it would expire.

AVP Coming to Panama City Beach for Spring Break

As college students across the country prepare for the time honored tradition of Spring Break, the AVP prepares to start a Spring Break tradition of its own this year in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Known to many as Spring Break Capital of the World, Panama City Beach plays host to hundreds of thousands of college students each year, who descend on the Florida coast to soak up the surf and sand, and party on the beach.  Along with the endless sea of Spring Breakers, also come some of the biggest names in Spring Break entertainment, including MTV, who has called Panama City Beach its Spring Break home for several years.

This year, the AVP plans on making its own name for itself in Spring Break entertainment, as it will pack up the Southern California beach party atmosphere found on the AVP Crocs Tour and bring it to Panama City Beach for the first event of the 2009 season.

While the main event of AVP’s Spring Break will be the AVP Crocs Tour, March 27-29, the AVP will head to Panama Beach City on March 7 to start its three week Spring Break experience.

The first two weeks of Spring Break will include numerous promotions and events geared towards Spring Breakers, and hosted by the AVP’s official sponsors, including, Bud Light, Crocs, Gatorade, Naked Juice, and Nature Valley, among others.

The third week of the AVP’s Spring Break will start off with the first ever Collegiate Beach Challenge.  Starting on Tuesday, March 24, college students from across the country will have the chance to participate in a two day four-on-four beach volleyball tournament.  There will be a men’s, women’s and coed division, each competing for cash prizes.  Also at stake for the winning teams will be the unique opportunity to move on to a final where they will face a team of two AVP Pros.

The finale of the AVP’s Spring Break in Panama City Beach will come at the end of week three, with the AVP Crocs Tour Panama City Beach Open.  In what will serve as the 2009 season-opening event, the AVP Crocs Tour will showcase some of the best beach volleyball players in the world, including 2008 Olympic Gold Medalists, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers.  A one-day qualifier will begin on Friday morning followed by a live band in the evening.  Men’s and women’s main draw action will start on Saturday morning with the finals scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

The AVP Crocs Tour event will take place directly in front of Sharky’s Beach Front Restaurant & Tiki Bar, located in the heart of Panama City Beach.  In an attempt to revert back to beach volleyball’s beginnings, six of the courts will be set up in “old school” style.  This will include minimal bleacher seating, allowing plenty of room for beach-goers to throw down their towels and mingle, while fully enjoying the beach party atmosphere of Spring Break.

Those wanting to be close to all of the AVP’s Spring Break events are encouraged to stay in one of the several hotels and condominiums that are affiliated with Sharky’s.  For more information, please click here.

Stay tuned for more details as AVP’s Spring Break gets closer.

Source: AVP.com