Friday, March 23, 2018

2017 brought a record number of tourists to the Sunshine State.

2017 brought a record number of tourists to the Sunshine State.

According to VISIT FLORIDA ,116.5 million people visited the Sunshine State last year.

That's a 3.6 percent increase over 2016.

The numbers include 102 million domestic visitors, 11 million overseas visitors and 3.5 million Canadian visitors.

Florida’s tourism industry supports 1.4 million jobs across the state

Governor Rick Scott hopes to keep the visitor's coming.

He said We will continue to market our state as the number one global destination for tourism.”

Don't miss Wings and Wheels Aviation day at the airport in Apalachicola on Saturday

If you like planes make sure to come out to the Franklin County Airport in Apalachicola on Saturday.

The Airport will host Wings and Wheels Aviation Day on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m..

There will be free airplane rides for kids aged 8 to 17, along with bounce houses, a paper airplane contest, car show, and food.
Live music will be performed by Debbie Jordan and the band Flying Fish
You can also check out a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, a Coast Guard helicopter, military aircraft, a Yak 52, an AT-11 prop plane, and even win a ride in a P5-1D.

The event is brought to you by the Tourist Development Council, and Centric Aviation.

Be safe before you swim - check the beach flag widget at

The next time you plan to go swimming on St. George Island make sure to check the beach flag widget at first.

The widget was created by 2K web group for the Franklin County Parks and Recreation department.

The widget shows the beach flag color and is updated daily.

The beach warning flag alerts swimmers to the daily rip tide and other beach conditions.

A green flag means the risk is low – red means high risk.

A double red flag means the water is closed to public use.

A purple flag means dangerous marine life is in the water.

There is even a link that takes you to more information about beach conditions.

The Parks and Recreation clean-up crew are in charge of changing the flags every day.

If you don't have access to the internet, you will find beach flags in 2 locations on St. George Island, one at Carrabelle Beach and one in Alligator Point.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

FWC Law Enforcement Weekly Report March 2, 2018 through March 8, 2018

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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FWC logo and law enforcement badge 
Division of Law Enforcement Weekly Report
March 2, 2018 through March 8, 2018

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.

Patrol, Protect, Preserve




Officer McHenry completed his investigation on a derelict vessel located in the Santa Rosa Sound. The owner of the vessel claimed he sold it, but did not have a bill of sale or proof of transferred title. Officer Allgood issued the subject a notice to appear citation for the derelict vessel. Citations were also issued for improper lighting and expired registration.

Officer Pettey issued a notice to appear citation to an individual for turkey hunting in a closed season in McDavid. The individual was discovered turkey hunting by a hunting club member who relayed the information. After an interview, the subject admitted to hunting turkey out of season. Charges were filed with the State Attorney’s Office for attempting to take turkey out of season.


Officers Richardson, Sauls, Kossey, Peterson, Hofheinz, Reserve Officer Martin, and Lieutenant Cook conducted a special detail in St. George Island State Park. Officer Richardson organized the detail to address the increased number of visitors to St. George Island for the Annual Chili Cookoff. The detail focused on areas in the state park where shorebirds are actively nesting. During the detail, four infractions, four written warnings, and six verbal warnings were issued for state park violations.

Officer Travis was targeting undersized oysters in the Eastpoint area and conducted a resource inspection at the Eastpoint Boat Ramp. The vessel had four people on board and nine bags of oysters. During the inspection, he checked the size tolerance of two bags. The first bag contained 61% undersized oysters and the second bag contained 63% undersized oysters. Two subjects were cited for possession of undersized oysters and the small oysters were returned to the Apalachicola Bay alive.

Officer Kossey was on patrol in the Tate’s Hell Wildlife Management Area. He approached a truck on the Gully Branch Road and contacted several subjects that were looking for snakes and other reptiles. During his resource inspection, one of the subjects, a convicted felon, had a pistol in his truck’s glovebox. The subject was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.


Officers Hildebrand and Johnson were on water patrol on the Little River and observed a man fishing with a rod and reel close to a boat ramp. A resource inspection revealed that the subject did not have a valid fishing license. As Officer Hildebrand talked with the subject, he smelled the odor of cannabis. Dispatch advised the officers that the subject had two active warrants out of Leon County and one out of Suwanee County. The subject was arrested and Officer Hildebrand asked the subject if he had any drugs on him and he replied that he had a “joint” in his tackle box. Officer Hildebrand checked the tackle box and located the cannabis. A physical arrest was made and appropriate citations were issued.


A boating accident investigation completed in 2017 by Investigator Molnar recently resulted in a guilty verdict resulting in a $1,000 fine and one-year probation from the court. The investigation involved an operator and one other occupant running through a dock causing more than $36,000 in damage including damage to the boat and the dock. Investigator Molnar subpoenaed the operator’s medical blood which resulted in a BAC of .175. The operator was later arrested and charged with BUI causing property damage and injury to another as well as violation of navigational rules 5 (improper lookout) and 6 (safe speed).

Officer Corbin was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and resource inspections in the Destin Harbor when he observed a 10-foot vessel operating with an expired boat registration and no registration displayed on the starboard side. The officer observed the small boat leaving an anchored sailboat in the harbor and heading toward land. Officer Corbin contacted Officer Pifer, who was on land patrol, and directed him to the location of where the small boat docked. Officer Pifer contacted the operator and conducted a boating safety inspection. The officer noticed discrepancies with the vessel’s title. The vessel was registered as a 2016 10-foot homemade vessel and had a hull identification number (HIN) assigned to it that was different than the HIN number attached to the vessel. The vessel was identified as a 2001 10-foot Alumacraft. The registration expired on 10/13/17. The officers confirmed that the operator had been the owner of the vessel for a year, but had failed to transfer the title to his name. The owner stated he had not received the vessel title from the previous owner/seller. The owner provided the name of the person he purchased the boat from which matched the current registered owner of the stopped vessel. The officers concluded the stop and advised the new owner they would research the discrepancies and would be in contact later. The research determined the previous owner/seller had falsely/fraudulently titled the vessel as a homemade boat. Warrants were obtained and filed against the previous owner/seller for three felonies: title fraud, filing a fraudulent certificate of title and false statement and one misdemeanor for failure to notify the Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicle (DHSMV) for selling the vessel.

Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting boating safety and resource inspections when he observed an individual actively working on a vessel docked behind a hotel in Fort Walton Beach. In conversation with the individual, the officer noticed the vessel displayed an expired registration. Officer Corbin determined from the bill of sale the individual was also the owner of the vessel since November 2016. The new owner failed to transfer the vessel’s title into his name within 30 daysfrom purchase. The owner was issued a notice to appear citation.

Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting resource protection on Eglin Wildlife Management Area when he observed a group of individuals congregating around a campsite off Little Rocky Creek. The officer observed the subjects discarding what appeared to be beer cans on the ground and in the bushes. Officer Corbin determined the five individuals were underage and consuming alcoholic beverages. Further, the individuals failed to obtain the required Eglin Camping Permit. Five subjects were cited and issued a notice to appear citation for possessing/consuming alcoholic beverage.


Officer Hutchinson was patrolling in Blackwater State Forest when he observed a campsite where a man and woman were packing up. As he pulled up, the man threw items under a log. A quick look revealed drug paraphernalia. A closer look revealed numerous items of drug paraphernalia and several containers with cocaine in various forms. The subjects were also in possession of methamphetamine. The woman admitted to making crack cocaine in the campsite and smoking methamphetamine. Both subjects were charged with manufacturing crack cocaine, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia and booked in the Santa Rosa County Jail.

Lieutenant Hahr was patrolling in Blackwater State Forest when he observed a campsite where some of the people were drinking alcoholic beverages. As he approached them, the five subjects passed around a cannabis pipe and each of them smoked from it. Lieutenant Hahr identified himself and seized the pipe, a bag of cannabis, and numerous items of drug paraphernalia. All five subjects were charged with possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officers Ramos, Lugg, Wilkerson, Clark, Long, Cushing and Land participated in targeted enforcement of pompano regulations along Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia County beaches. The officers checked more than 200 anglers in a two-week span resulting in 5 citations and 12 warnings for various violations.

Officer Ramos was patrolling the Santa Rosa Sound and observed a vessel operating in the Quietwater Beach area. A routine boating safety inspection was conducted and the operator could not produce two required safety items or the required registration. He stated he bought the boat two years ago but could not produce a bill of sale or any type of registration. Officer Ramos followed the vessel to a nearby boat ramp where the operator recovered the vessel from the water. The truck used to pull the boat did not have a registration tag on it nor the vessel trailer. After a thorough investigation, the operator was deemed to have purchased the out-of-state vessel in 2013 and failed to transfer the title. The truck he was driving had an expired registration of 2016. The owner was issued a criminal citation for failing to record an out of state vessel, a traffic citation for expired vehicle registration greater than 6 months, a boating citation for failing to carry required safety equipment, as well as multiple warnings for other violations.

Officer Ramos observed two men return from a fishing trip and followed them to a local boat ramp. The vessel was pushing a wake in an idle speed zone until they saw the officer approach. After a boating safety inspection, Officer Ramos asked if the men had caught any fish. The men showed him ten gray snapper and several unregulated fish in a cooler. Upon measuring the snapper, seven of the ten were undersized. The captain of the vessel admitted he should have measured the fish and took responsibility for the seven undersized fish. The fish were seized and the man was cited for the undersized fish and issued a warning for violating the idle speed zone.


While on patrol in the St. Marks area, Officer Morales noticed a vessel approaching a dock. The vessel struck the dock hard and the two occupants appeared to be having a hard time mooring to it. Officer Morales approached the vessel and occupant to see if he could assist. After securing the vessel, Officer Morales conducted a boating safety and fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed multiple violations pertaining to vessel registration and possession of undersized hogfish. During the inspection, it was also determined that one of the occupants had an active arrest warrant. The subject was placed under arrest and the violations were cited.


Officers from Leon and Jefferson Counties provided law enforcement support for the reenactment of the 153th Anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge. The battle took place in March of 1865 and preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not conquered by Union forces during the Civil War. Lieutenant Field brought out the command bus and Duty Officers Strickland, Helton and Souders used it as their base of operations. The duty officers were in charge of ensuring that reenactors met eligibility requirements before they could participate in the reenactment. Lieutenant Olson, Investigator Bryant, and Officers Johnson, Wilcox, Pekerol, and Lieutenant Wass de Czege provided law enforcement support throughout the event. More than 1,300 visitors attended the reenactment without serious incident.


PIPER is a 4 yr old Labrador Retriever and the sweetest, gentlest soul here. She has been our acting nurse maid to several scared and unsocialized dogs and they have all responded well to her calm and gentle nature. She would make the perfect pet for a loving family. She is happy to go for walks and she is equally happy to snuggle. If you are looking for a companion dog for yourself or family, this lady should be at the top of your list!

Volunteers are desperately needed to socialize all of our dogs and
cats. We are always looking for people willing to bring one of our
animals into their home to be fostered for various needs. Anytime you
can spare would be greatly appreciated.

Call Karen at 670-8417 for more details or visit the Franklin County
Humane Society at 244 State Road 65 in Eastpoint. You may logon to
the website at to see more of our adoptable

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Don't miss the Carrabelle Culture Crawl on March the 24th

Carrabelle Culture Crawl

Saturday, March 24
10:00 am-3:00 pm

Admission is Free & Open to the Public

The Carrabelle Culture Crawl is a free celebration of amazing art, music, history, food, and fun in the heart of downtown Carrabelle on Saturday, March 24, 10 am-3 pm.  This cultural event is a free, multi-venue showcase that will take place at over a dozen unique galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, and spaces. This wonderful community event, sponsored in part by the Carrabelle History Museum, City of Carrabelle Community Redevelopment Agency, Coastal Realty Group, Carrabelle and Franklin County Tourist Development Council, is free and open to the public.

Be on the lookout for the Oysterman, the Forgotten Coast Mermaids and some of your favorite Fishy Fashion characters wandering the streets, representing the spirit of Carrabelle. The Carrabelle Artist Association will have a wonderful and unique display of art from several talented area artists. Visitors will also have an opportunity to lend their talents to the creation of some public art. Music will be heard during the Culture Crawl in various places - like Country music on the sidewalk at Rio Carrabelle in the afternoon and Barbershop singers wandering the streets. Plus get a chance at winning some wonderful door prizes just for having fun!

Guests may start at any of the participating locations and visit as many as time allows. Event maps showing the official stops will be available and the Gopher Tortoise logo will be displayed in the windows of participating locations. Complimentary refreshments will be available at several venues and visitors have a chance to enter the drawing for some great door prizes.

Carrabelle Culture Crawl locations include the following wonderful places: 

1) The Belle
2) Cal Allen’s Coastal Art Gallery 
3) Carrabelle Artist Association
4) Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce
5) Carrabelle Corner
6) Carrabelle History Museum
7) Carrabelle Junction
8) Christie’s Cottage Living
9) Coastal Realty Group, Carrabelle
10) Fathom's Steam Room & Raw Bar
11) Franklin County Public Library, Carrabelle Branch
12) Lost Treasure Gallery
13) Lulu’s Cafe

Wakulla County Parks & Recreation 2018 Easter Egg Hunt

Monday, March 19, 2018

St. George Island State Park seeks OPS Park Ranger

 If you are looking for work and you like the outdoors, the state park on St. George Island is looking for a Park Ranger.

The state park is currently taking applications for an OPS Park Ranger position.

The job pays 10 dollars an hour and there are no benefits, except that you get to work at one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

The job is 24 hours a week on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from April 2nd through June the 30th.

Apllicants should enjoy working with the public as they will provide visitor services among other duties.

To apply you will need to fill out an application at

For more information you can also call Joshua Hodson at the State Park at 921-2111.

Franklin County residents can now renew their driver's licenses at the tax collector's office

 Franklin County residents can now renew their driver's licenses in Franklin County.

Beginning today residents will no longer have to travel out of county to get a new drivers license or renew an old license.

People can now go the tax collector's office at the Franklin County Courthouse in Apalachicola for Driver licenses, ID cards, and license reinstatements.

The office is also able to administer the written exam and driving test.

You will have to make an appointment to take the driving test.

You can make an appointment by calling 653-9323.

Guardian ad Litem program to hold training class in Apalachicola on Saturday

The Guardian Ad litem program is looking for local volunteers and plan to hold a training session in Apalachicola on March 24th.

The Guardian Ad Litem program represents the best interests of children in court, generally in non-criminal court cases like divorces.

Many of the thousands of children using the program statewide are the victims of abuse, abandonment or neglect.

In January there were 13 Franklin County children being represented by a Guardian Ad Litem, there were 8 Franklin County volunteers in the program.

More volunteers are needed – particularly retired people – the program would like to have 12 to 15 volunteers working locally.

Its a big commitment but not overwhelming.

If you would like to help, on average you would have to devote 8 to 10 hours a month to the program.

The program will hold an orientation session at the Courthouse Annex in Apalachicola on Saturday, March the 24th from 10 till 5.

If you are interested, you should call Sara Urban at 850-606-1213 to register.

Anyone interested in learning more about the prgram can go to

The Gulf Council's Shrimp Advisory Panel to Meet


 Meeting Notice
March 19, 2018
The Gulf Council's Shrimp Advisory Panel  
to Meet 
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will hold a meeting of it's Shrimp Advisory Panel on Thursday, April 5, 2018. The meeting will convene in the Council office conference room at 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, Tampa, Florida, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, EST.
The panel will address the following items:
  • Biological review of the Texas closure
  • Review of the new stock assessments for brown, white and pink shrimp
  • Update on shrimp catch, effort, CPUE, turtle threshold update, and juvenile red snapper effort threshold
  • Review of the Ph.D. of Coral Amendment 9
  • Discussion of hurricane(s) impact on shrimp industry
  • Discussion of SPGM permit renewal process
For a complete agenda and meeting materials click here.

To register for the webinar click here.

About the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans, which are designed to manage fishery resources within the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.
Submit comments and stay updated on fishery issues:
Check it out! Go to and click on the thermometer in the middle of the page. From there you can read up on all the pending actions, watch the video presentations, read comments, and submit your own. All comments submitted through the online form are automatically posted on our web site for Council review. Other comments are manually posted every couple of days. 

There is also a thermometer for each issue that lets you know where the Council is in the process for that particular amendment, whether it's the scoping phase, final action, or implementation.
You can also find information on our Facebook page, blog, and YouTube channel.
 Like us on Facebook  Visit our blog  View our videos on YouTube

The Gulf Council has an APP for that - Download it for free!
Join Our Mailing List
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Public Information Officer

April 15 marks start of Florida’s bat maternity season

bat photo
FWC photo by Karen Parker.

If you have bats roosting in your attic, eaves or chimney spaces, now is the time to give them an eviction notice. Bat maternity season begins April 15 and runs through August 15. Exclusions of bat colonies must be completed before the season starts.

“During bat maternity season, bats gather to give birth and raise their young,” said Terry Doonan, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologist and mammal conservation coordinator. “The season lasts until the young bats can fly and feed themselves. In Florida, this occurs from mid-April through mid-August for most bat species.”

Bat exclusions are illegal during this maternity season to prevent young bats that cannot yet fly from being trapped inside structures and dying.

Florida is home to 13 resident bat species, including threatened species such as the Florida bonneted bat. Some bat species roost in artificial structures, including buildings and houses. Although it is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, guidelines have been developed allowing for the legal exclusion of bats outside of the maternity season.

Exclusion guidelines on how to remove bats from buildings can be found at and methods to exclude bats can affect the success of that process. For more information on how to conduct a bat exclusion, watch this YouTube video: How to Get Bats Out of a BuildingFurther details on how to conduct a legal bat exclusion can be found at Bat Conservation International.

Bats are beneficial to people and are an important part of the ecosystem. The state’s native bats help keep insect populations under control, with the average bat eating hundreds of insects a night. In addition to the benefit of keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay for residents enjoying the outdoors, the value of insect suppression by bats to U.S. agriculture has been estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

There are several ways that Florida residents and visitors can help bats:
  • Preserve natural roost sites, including trees with cavities and peeling bark. Dead fronds left on palms can also provide roosting spots for bats.
  • Put up a bat house.
  • Report unusual bat behavior to:
Bats can carry rabies. Although infected bats may not become aggressive, like any other wild animal, they can bite to defend themselves if handled. Don’t touch or go near any wild animal, especially one that’s not acting normally. For more information about rabies, visit the Florida Department of Health website at
FWC staff are working to learn more and share information about Florida’s bats. For more information on Florida’s bats, go to If you need assistance, contact your closestFWC Regional Office to speak with a regional wildlife assistance biologist for more information.