CRESTVIEW — As another eventful year draws to a close, the Crestview News Bulletin's staff looks back on the top stories we reported on in 2013.
1. THE CONVICTION OF JOSEPH FLOYD
Former Crestview police Maj. Joseph Floyd faces 12 years in prison following his October sentencing on a single racketeering charge.
Floyd, who commanded the department's defunct Street Crimes Unit, was credited with remedying the city's rampant drug problem and improving departmental professionalism.
However, evidence presented at his trial showed he harassed, intimidated and physically abused criminal suspects, residents and officers who worked for him, falsified paperwork and destroyed evidence.
2. GERMANY, MEET NORTHWEST FLORIDA
The International Aerospace Industry Forum for Northwest Florida Leadership, held earlier this month in Hamburg, Germany, brought 35 business, education and community leaders from Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.
Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris, also the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce executive director; Nathan Sparks, the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council's executive director; and Linda Sumblin, the Workforce Development Board of Okaloosa and Walton Counties' executive director, were among attendees.
It was the first time that the five counties' economic development leaders worked together to organize an overseas trip to try to bring new business to the region.
3. BUS SERVICE THREATENED
After the Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners voted to eliminate Crestview's two bus routes if the City Council couldn't help fund the service, Crestview leaders voted to fund the routes using anticipated county gasoline tax revenue.
Commissioners then changed parameters and said the routes would only operate through January 2014.
Monday morning, County Commissioner Nathan Boyles said the buses probably will keep running through fiscal year 2013-14, with possible route consolidations to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.
"I think, at the end of the day, we can provide the same amount of service for less," he said.
4. FOOTBALL TEAMS BRING HOMETOWN PRIDE
Crestview High School's Bulldogs beat the Niceville High School Eagles 17-12 on Nov. 1.
The Bulldogs' first win over the Eagles since 1982 signaled a turning point for the school's football program, which posted two disappointing seasons under former Coach Kevin Pettis.
A new era, under Coach Tim Hatten, is here, and the future looks promising.
Neighboring Baker School's Gators hadn't won a district championship since 2001, but the team saw a perfect 10-0 regular season and defeated Distrcit 1-1A rivals Freeport, Jay and Northview.
5. SHOPPING MALL PROJECT IN LIMBO
Local shoppers anticipated national restaurant and retail chains as the proposed Crestview Power Center shopping mall project near Lowe's slowly lumbered forward.
An agreement between the city, Beach Community Bank, which owns the land, and developer D.R. Horton would fund a sewer line needed to allow development north of Interstate 10.
Mall developer Watkins Retail Group's abrupt withdrawal put the project in jeopardy. But a December agreement between the city and the bank allows the sewer line upgrade to move forward, facilitating D.R. Horton's residential community construction.
That should make the mall site more attractive to another developer, city officials said.
6. CRESTVIEW MISSION RAIDED
Following a month-long investigation into child abuse and neglect allegations, the Crestview Police Department on Nov. 7 executed a search warrant at Harvest Vineyard Ministries.
Police found nearly 80 people, including convicted felons and sex offenders, living in the same Main Street residential facility as children.
Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputies charged the Rev. Alex E. Thompson, the ministry's pastor, with child neglect without great bodily harm.
Authorities closed the facility and Harvest Vineyard staffers relocated residents to a Covington County, Ala., church.
7. VOTERS TURN OUT INCUMBENTS
Crestview voters elected three native residents to the City Council and turned two incumbents out of office in March. Only 1,324 of 12,652 registered voters went to the polls.
Joe Blocker defeated then-president Ben Iannucci III while former president Charles Baugh Jr. lost to Mickey Rytman. Shannon Hayes won the seat of former councilman Tim Grandberry, who did not run for reelection.
The new councilmen joined Robyn Helt and Tom Gordon on the dais in April. The three former councilmen were newcomers to the city.
8.CRESTVIEW NAMED THE NO. 30 COLLEGE TOWN
The American Institute for Economic Research ultimately named the Crestview metropolitan area, including Fort Walton Beach and Destin, No. 30 among America's Top College Towns.
The institute initially gave the area a No. 4 ranking, based on median income and other economic factors, which raised scrutiny among a number of North Okaloosa residents and inspired editorials from publications such as the Gainesville Sun, which criticized the decision.
Ultimately, the institute's president said a copy-and-paste error contributed to the erroneous Top 10 ranking.
9. CONFEDERATE FLAG ISSUE RISES AGAIN
In October, community activist Mae Reatha Coleman voiced opposition to the city flying a Confederate battle flag over William "Uncle Bill" Lundy's memorial.
The City Council held a special meeting Nov. 14 to allow discussion of the issue, which has been raised since the 1990s. Speakers included representatives of out-of-town southern heritage groups and local residents. The council adjourned without taking a side on the issue.
But Coleman, saying "the flag divides our community," promised to raise the issue again.
10.CITY GAINS NEW BUSINESSES
Many residents anticipated the Krystal hamburger restaurant's October opening, while a new Dollar General store opened across from the National Guard Armory in Crestview.
A new Taco Bell opened near Crestview High School, and Hot Spot, a cigar bar and coffee shop, opened south of town.
Emerald Isle Seafood, a seafood market and restaurant, opened in the location of the former Fish Net. Sweet Dreams Bakery brought from-scratch cakes and "sin-namon" rolls to Main Street.
Pawsitively Scrumptious also opened downtown, offering pet snacks and supplies, complementing All Doggy Divas and Rockstars pet boarding and grooming around the corner.
However, one long-time business is shutting its doors. Keith Lewis of Lewis and Company Jewelers, announced he is retiring and closing his North Ferdon Boulevard store.
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