Mitt Romney Surprises Panama City with a Visit

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurat

Regardless of your political affiliation, when a president or president hopeful comes to our neck of the woods, it’s something to take note of.  You may remember, not long ago President Obama came to our beach.  Love him or hate him, he’s still the president, and he along with all the journalists that were following him know about Panama City Beach.  Now, let’s add what could be our next President – Mitt Romney.  Grant it, we couldn’t get him on the beach, he was pressed for time, but at least our general area got some press!

Being a fellow Mormon, I have a natural attraction to Mitt and his position on how to run a country.  Of course, the fact that he runs a tight business ship and wants to make America better for business helps a lot too.  Being a small business owner myself, we need all the help we can get!

Anyway, I didn’t intend on this being a political soap box for me to share my views on who would be a great president (you can see why he’d be great here), just wanted to let you know he was here and share some pictures!

10th Annual Mask Parade and Gala

Keep your calendar clear for Saturday, April 14th!  The 10th Annual Mask Parade and Gala for Convenant Hospice will be taking place at the Edgewater Beach Resort!  Expect performers, artwork, silent and live auctions, dinner, and dancing!

Currently they are accepting sponsorships. Remember, sponsorships include recognizing your support of the Hospice in promotional opportunities leading up to the gala.  This includes the Mask Preview Party and the Parade which both occur in the weeks prior to the gala.  The deadline to confirm sponsorship is March 23rd, 2012.  Email for more information.

Last year’s gala raised over $90,000 for the 900 patients of Covenant Hospice in Panama City and surrounding areas.  These funds enabled them to provide end-of-life palliative care based on need, not someone’s ability to pay.  They also provide services for indigent patients, services not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or priviate insurance.

Storytelling Festival Friday Night

Looking for something to do this Friday night? (January 27th, 2012)  Join some of Florida’s top story tellers at Breakers on the Beach!  In the image above, you’ll see the faces of the readers to join the event, as well as where they originate from.

Reservations are recommended, but tickets will be available at the door.  Call 850.234.6060 to make your reservations!  Tickets are $10, including hor d’ouvres and the stories.  Happy Hour will be running from 4:00pm-6:00pm with an open cash bar all evening.  Story telling will begin at 7:00pm.

This evening promises to be heart-warming, full of laughter, and overall entertaining- so enjoy!


Infuse: Visual and Performing Arts for Autism

Raising awareness and funds for for the Autism Education Center through an art exhibit and DJ show.  The event will showcase several local artists including student artists from the school, who are donating all or some of the sales to the school.  There will also be a raffle for prizes, each entrant will receive one ticket and additional tickets will be for sale.  The event is free, but there is a suggested donation of $3.  (Donations will go directly to the Autism Education Center.)

DJ performances will include DJ Wes Rolan, DJay Markie Mark, DJ Yoya, and Dee Jay Link with more possible performances to be announced. Local Artists Trent Soto, Helen Ezell, Ryan Acevedo, Travis Dutton, The staff at Image Evolution, Vladamir Borissov, Camille Butchikas and many more including students from the AEC.
Infuse will be held January 28th from 7:00pm-10:00pm, with a thank-you after party from 10:00pm-4:00am at the C level Bar and Grill.
Enjoy the arts and help the Autism Education Center!  

Mardi Gras in PCB with the Krewe of Massalina

Want to celebrate Mardi Gras without the crowds of New Orleans?  The Krewe of Massalina is making sure that you celebrate Mardi Gras right, right here in Panama City!  More than 50 vendors will be set up, as well as two stages of N’Orleans style music to fill the air.

Schedule of Events

  • Friday, February 3rd, Block Party 6pm-10pm in McKenzie Park
  • Saturday, February 4th, Mardi Gras Festival 12pm-10pm in McKenzie Park
  • Saturday, February 4th, Mardi Gras Parade 3pm on Harrison Avenue


  • The Toad Lick Festival will be giving away several tickets to the biggest music festival in Dothan, AL.
  • Over $10,000 in “The Great Downtown Giveaway”
  • Assorted gift certificates will also be thrown out during the Mardi Gras Parade

Will you join the Krewe of Massalina to celebrate this year’s Mardi Gras?

When will the Thomas Drive CRA Project be Complete?

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurat

The Thomas Drive CRA project is not unlike a lot of other large construction projects (specifically road projects).  Not only do they seem to last forever, they also seem to fall victim to a variety of delays.  The interesting thing about this project, compared to projects in other areas is that it’s essentially disrupting the oldest area in Panama City Beach.  Talking to Mario Gisbert, the Director of the CRA on the beach, he was telling me the variety of objects and their sizes they’ve unexpectedly found underground has been a true game of strategy to work with.

Today we’re going to explore the original timeline, where they’re at now with the project and just when we’re going to get our road back – which is soon, I promise.

But first, if I may, I’d like to make a request.  You see that little share button to the left?  If you click on that, you can share this article with all your friends on Facebook.  If you like this article, do me a favor and share it with your friends.

Original timeline and the nature of its slide

Let me preface this section by reiterating how large this project really is.  When it comes to completely overhauling how the utilities are handled and putting in all new roadway, all the while keeping the roadway open to the public, it is a very large undertaking.  Shoot, take away the utility overhaul component and you’ve got a fairly simple project.  However, with this project, they completely redid all of the infrastructure – all of it.  So, it has taken quite a bit of time.

Their original timeline goaded the project for completion in January of 2012, this month.  Construction originally began in September of 2009.

The challenge with a project of this nature is that you have power, water, sewer and other utilities that need to remain functional for the duration of the project.  So construction consists of preparing the areas, installing new utility lines, switching to the new utility lines, THEN removing the old ones, then off to the finishing work.  Of course, if along the way they find, say, a piece of concrete the size of a small car under the ground, in the way of where a line is to be laid, then it needs to be excavated.  All of these unexpected excavations cost extra time.  Rain days cost extra time.  Adding work to the project to the benefit of all, once they realize a change needs to be made adds extra time.

As of right now, we’re looking at approximately 30 extra days due to rain delays, 45 extra days due to unforeseen conditions and 30 extra days added for additional work to make the project better.  Just when this project will draw to a close is below. 😉

Note: just think about the fact that we ONLY had 30 rain days out of 28 months!  Good thing it hardly rains here.  

What the project looks like today

Construction is funny in that it always looks like it’s taking forever.  Then, all of a sudden, just when you feel like you can hardly take it anymore, it’s done! Remember Pier Park? It seemed like they were moving dirt with those huge Volvo trucks for a year before they even started doing anything else.  Then all in a couple months they through up some concrete walls, put siding and paint on them and move in some stores.

So it is with this CRA project.  As mentioned, there is an extremely large amount of infrastructure work.  It seemed like there was something going on for a long time with really no visible changes.  That’s because the work that was happening, the changes, if you will, were happening underground.  If you could x-ray the ground before and after, what you’d see is a whole new world.

What better way to show you than pictures.

With the golden arches to the right and Laketown Wharf to the left, what you see in the middle will be an expanded and widened Front Beach Road. The utilities have all been relocated and those ugly power lines will be gone in a matter of weeks.  You’ll see huge changes to this corridor in the next 6 weeks and everything will be drivable by spring break.

This is the right turn from Front Beach Road to the South Thomas Drive loop.  If you were traveling towards the camera in this shot, you’d see directly in front of you, Ripley’s Museum.

This is the recently signalized intersection of The South Thomas Drive loop road and South Thomas Drive.  Alvin’s Island is just out of shot to the right and Boardwalk Beach Resort is behind the camera.  This was always a dangerous and difficult pathway during heavy traffic seasons.

This is a tractor.  They use it to scrape and level dirt.  They wouldn’t let me drive it.  😦

To the right in this shot is the Boardwalk Beach Resort corporate offices and condo resort check-in center.  To the left is Alvin’s Island.  This roadway will allow continued access to those and other local businesses and provide a shortcut right to Thomas Drive.

In this shot we can see the curve that will take you to the Thomas Drive intersection.  Again, Alvin’s Island is to the right.

This is the amenity pond area right there next to the previously looked at Thomas Drive / South Thomas Drive intersection.  The thing that’s cool about this water mitigation area is that they’ve made this into a usable amenity.  Sidewalks are in, there will be lighting and tons of indigenous landscaping. See that spot to the right there?  Yep, park benches.  This will be an area to recreate.

I know what you’re thinking – why’d he take a shot of a sprinkler head?  This is symbolic of a landscape plan that will require maintenance and upkeep.  Not only will there be an obligation to keep the area beautiful, you can expect grassy areas  and a groomed area for recreation.

To the right in this shot, you can see the condominium tower at Boardwalk Beach Resort.  I love this shot because it shows the curvature the sidewalk has in some areas.  Meant to give the stroller a “meandering walk”, the sidewalks are given character with texture and framing.

This is one of the tram loading areas that, before now, you’ve only seen in plans.  Those power lines to the left, they’ll be gone in a matter of days.  All the utilities have been switched to the underground lines.

The new South Thomas Drive.  Median.  It’s a wonderful thing.

This was the ‘ol nightmare curve – with the stop sign on the northbound traffic and none in the opposite direction.  It was confusing, dangerous and poorly designed.  The new layout is wider, safer, no stops and will flow much better.

This is what one well known developer once called Condo Canyon.  You can see how wide the roadway is there now.  It’s looking finished and should be open to the public in the coming weeks.

This is the South Thomas Drive / Front Beach Road intersection.

The project will be completed by. . .

The original timeline called for completion this month.  But, with the variety of things that have come up along the way we’re not looking at roadwork completion date of beginning of March.  Their goal is to have the roadways completely operational in time for Spring Break.  The landscaping and beautification of the amenity areas will take place during the month of March to be completed by the end of that month.

At this point, almost all of the infrastructure work is complete and they’re about ready to begin on the roadway work at the Front Beach Road, Middle Beach Road intersection.  We’ll see everything pull together in the next 6 weeks.  At this point, any major slides are really quite unlikely since we’re so close to the end.

So that’s it, this whole project is geared to be wrapped up by the end of March.  I for one will be glad to have our road not only back, but in a condition it has never been in before.

Summary of what this project will bring to us

So maybe you’re just tuning in here and not exactly sure what this project will do for us as a community.

I think you should read: 57 Reasons the New South Thomas Drive will Rock – I have all of the improvements spelled out there.

Stars and Guitars: A Concert Preview

It’s time!  This Saturday night the concert you have all been waiting for takes the stage!  Stars and Guitars benefitting the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center will feature Andy Griggs, Daryle Singletary, Randy Houser, Josh Gracin, and Ashton Shepherd.

Andy Griggs

Andy is from Louisiana and records on RCA Nashville’s label.

Some of his best known hits are:

  • You Won’t Ever Be Lonely
  • She’s More
  • This I Gotta See

Please visit Andy’s website for more information.

Daryle Singletary

Darlye Singletary is from Georgia and released his first album in 1995.  Click here to visit his website.

Songs you might recognize are:

  • I Let Her Lie
  • Too Much Fun
  • I’d Love To Lay You Down
Randy Houser

Randy Houser is a singer and songwriter from Mississippi.  He has written songs for Trace Adkins, Justin Moore, and Jessie James.

A few songs he has recorded are:

  • Boots On
  • Whistlin’ Dixie
  • Anything Goes
Josh Gracin

Made famous for his appearance on American Idol, Josh Gracin is originally from Michigan.  You can learn more about Josh online.

Some of Josh’s most popular songs are:

  • Nothin’ To Lose
  • Stay With Me/Brass Bed
  • We Weren’t Crazy
Ashton Shepherd

Ashton Shepherd made her way from Alabama to RCA Nashville to release her first album in April 2007.

Some of her best known singles are:

  • Look It Up
  • Takin’ Off This Pain
  • Where Country Grows


This is a concert you don’t want to miss!  Tickets are available online for $27.50 downstairs/$20 upstairs.  Enjoy the concert and making a difference for the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center!

2011: The Best Year Yet for The Resort Collection

Congratulations to The Resort Collection!  2011 was a top year for The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach, with notable accomplishments, awards, and proof of customer satisfaction. They also saw the highest summer revenue and nightly room occupancy rate.  They are looking into 2012 with a focus on guest satisfaction and community involvement.

“This has been a really great year for The Resort Collection. It is our mission to become the preferred leisure, golf, meeting and lifestyle destination in Panama City Beach,” said Paul Wohlford, vice president of sales and marketing for The Resort Collection. “In 2011, our staff fulfilled that mission and the guests just keep coming back!”

“After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we were really aggressive in making sure people knew our beaches were unaffected,” said Wohlford. “We saw the fruits of our labor this summer. We are pleased that people turn to The Resort Collection when they think of a Florida vacation, whether it’s their first stay or they come every year.”

The Resort Collection shared this news in Time Square in New York City to celebrate.  (see featured image)  Congratulations again to The Resort Collection on a great year!

Laketown Wharf is Making Valentines Day Special for Lucky Winner

Laketown Wharf has decided to make Valentines Day extra special for one lucky couple!  Enter on their Facebook page for the chance to win a two night/three day stay, a welcome bottle of champagne and candy, and a $50 gift card to Pier Park.  Laketown is helping you to be able to spend some quality time with the one you love this year!

The winner of the contest will be notified on January 31st, so make sure to enter before then!

Laketown Wharf also has Valentine’s Packages starting at $99 a night!  Good luck to those entering!

Dance for Life: Fundraising for Relay for Life

Cancer touches so many lives in the world today, few people don’t know someone who has been diagnosed.  Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Panama City is doing their part to raise money in the fight against the disease!  On January 28th the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, local celebrities, and professional dancers from Dancing with the Stars will be showcased on the stage of the Martin Theatre in a benefit for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Dance for Life has become an annual fundraiser for the Fred Astaire Dance Studio’s Relay for Life team.  This year Derrell Day (Talk Radio 101.1), Many (Island 106), Sara Violette (97X and 101.1), and Short Bus (97X) will battle on the dance floor to see who is the best!

All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life.  Tickets are available at The Martin Theatre (850.763.8080) and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio (850.873.62.69).