CRESTVIEW — As the north county continues to grow, the News Bulletin continues to expand its coverage of news affecting readers throughout the region.
Some jumped out right away as we combed our archives; others were more subtle.
1. Crestview Police shakeup
Crestview Police Department Chief Brian Mitchell and his operations director Maj. Joseph Floyd were fired in the spring after an investigation of several allegations against the five-year officers.
“The termination of employment was effective after the city of Crestview’s mayor, David Cadle, provided a written notice of termination to the former operations major,” police spokesperson Lt. Andrew Schneider stated in press release.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office suspended Floyd and Mitchell March 1 following investigations.
Interim chief Kenneth Bundrick replaced Mitchell. This fall, Chief Tony Taylor assumed the position.
Schneider said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued the termination notice because of a grand jury indictment and the subsequent arrest of Floyd on March 5.
Floyd has been charged with felony charges of racketeering.
2. Crestview charter issue dropped
After more than three years’ effort, an administrative error, discovered shortly before the proposed Crestview city charter would go before voters, resulted in the city council having to rescind the ordinance that placed it on the ballot.
The item would have changed Crestview’s governing structure, allowing for a city administrator.
However, it was too late to remove the issue from the ballots, which had been printed. Despite being told their vote wouldn’t count, a majority of voters — 8,114 of 9,076 — who cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election also voted on the charter issue. Of those, 4,319, or 53 percent, voted against implementing the proposed charter.
Faced with public outcry when they proposed placing the issue on the March 2013 ballot, the council ultimately dropped the matter.
“If the citizens say no, I think we need to listen to the citizens,” Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. said.
3. Laurel Hill suggests dissolution
The city of Laurel Hill may allow residents to vote on whether the small municipality should remain incorporated or dissolve its city government and revert to county administration.
Some residents, including city council members Larry Hendren and Robby Adams, feel there are few benefits from paying city taxes in addition to county taxes. Most attendees at a Dec. 11 public town hall meeting to discuss the issue favored dissolution.
The council will discuss whether to pursue the steps necessary for dissolution, which will ultimately place the question on a ballot for voters to decide.
4. FAMU pharmacy school opens
The historic Alatex Building in downtown Crestview entered its newest phase the morning of Aug. 1 when local, state and Florida A&M University officials cut an orange and green ribbon officially reopening the building. The former sewing factory is now a state-of-the-art school for FAMU’s pharmacy program.
Built in 1937 to house an underwear factory as well as city hall and police headquarters, the long-unoccupied building was gutted before its transformation into the school’s high-tech Rural Diversity Healthcare Center.
Inside, where sewing machines once clattered beneath high ceilings, the center’s labs, classrooms, simulated clinic and mock pharmacy now bustle with a student population that within four years is expected to top 120 pharmacy majors. Classes for the first class of 27 freshmen and four seniors began Aug. 27.
“This is just the beginning of the project,” former state senator Dr. Durell Peaden said during opening ceremony remarks.
Peaden, a driving force behind bringing the campus to Crestview, foresees the school growing to embrace other disciplines, including a possible dental school component.
5. Controversy at Christmas Parade
For the first time in more than 50 years, controversy followed Crestview’s annual Main Street Christmas parade.
A parade participant who damned parade goers and denied Santa Claus’ existence through a megaphone from the back of a pick-up truck offended many attendees.
After receiving several complaints, Main Street Crestview Association’s event organizers are considering changing the application process for participants in future parades.
Possible revisions could include requiring participants to describe the nature of their entry when applying, to adhere to the parade theme, and to accept a specific location in the parade lineup.
NOFD contemplates firing chief
Many North Okaloosa Fire District firefighters and volunteers came to Chief Ed Cutler’s side after his removal from office was suggested by NOFD board of commissioners members at a monthly meeting last summer.
Some commissioners questioned Cutler’s handling of the department. After much discussion at a September meeting, both Cutler and the commissioners agreed that communication between the two sides needed improvement.
The tabled item of Cutler’s removal has since been removed from the commissioners’ agenda.
Widening study tempts P.J. Adams Parkway users