YEAR IN REVIEW: A Look back at the year that was 2015 (July-September) (PHOTOS)

Pam Griffin

JULY

• City, FDOT aim to address pedestrian issues along U.S. Hwy. 98.

• The creative atmosphere is undeniable at the new Rise Dance Center, 4489 Commons Drive in Destin.

• Destin Water Users (DWU) started a two-phase project to improve the sewage lines along Calhoun Avenue.

• The area near the old Lively Cinema 10 and Old Time Pottery, as well as the parcels of land near the old First National Bank near Walmart, have been suggested as locations where a Destin High School could be built.

• It’s hard to miss the newest restaurant in Destin, as a bright red arrow-shaped sign points the way to Tailfins Seafood, Alehouse and Oyster Bar at 172 Harbor Blvd.

• For nine months an Army truck and sign advertising a theme park called G.I. Joe’s sat along U.S. Highway 98 on a 10.25-acre parcel of land directly west of Big Kahuna’s, but now project is "on hold" for lack of cooperation from city hall and the state of Florida, said Maxwell "Joe" Bruner, land owner.

• More than 50 people filled the seats at City Council meeting as they waited for an opportunity to speak to city leaders about "safety concerns" along a stretch of beach near Destin Pointe on Holiday Isle.

• Olin Marler, one of the most successful boat captains in the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, died at the age of 80.

• For those who currently live in Heritage Run, help is on the way as the city of Destin has been awarded a grant from the state of Florida which will help fund a new pump system to try to eradicate flooding in this residential area.

• Even though in 2014 the city widened the channel, sand has filled back in and has made entering and leaving Destin’s harbor difficult, especially because of inexperienced operators and water depth.

• The former Club Overboard/Twisted Palm building at 14051 Emerald Coast Parkway has been razed to make way for a new multi-use development project which is expected to be called Sharktooth Commons.

• Wendy's is set to move east with a new building along U.S. 98 between ABC Liquors and Goodyear Tires.

• Destin Elementary School welcomed a new dolphin to the pod this month naming George "Al" Gardner as principal for the upcoming school year.

• City council discussions focused on speeding problems along Kelly Street after new paving. Of high concern is the safety of children using the new bicycle lane that runs along Kelly Street to Destin Elementary School.

• According to the 20-foot rule on beaches, vendors are forbidden from setting up their chairs any closer that 20 feet from the water’s edge.

AUGUST

• After complaints and Facebook posts of items left on the beach at night, the city of Destin decided to enforce two ordinances to keep our beaches clean. As of July 24, locals and visitors alike must remove all items from the beach before the next morning.

• Tucked among other office buildings along Main Street is The Captain School, which offers 11 courses to future captains, most of whom want to transport paying customers — such as a charter boat or a water taxi.

• Mayor Mel Ponder is the third person to pre-file to run for the District 4 seat which will be vacated by Rep. Matt Gaetz.

• At first glance it appeared to be large masses of grass in the Gulf at Henderson Beach State Park and westward. But a closer look soon revealed it was huge schools of millions of glass minnows or as the locals call them “rain minnows.”

• The city’s street sweeper gathers road debris that is then disposed of through Waste Management. Since the beginning of the year, the City of Destin has collected nearly 100 cubic yards of debris from city streets, equivalent to five dump truck loads of dirt and debris.

• Destin's for-hire drivers could be subject to a new set of regulations in the near future as the city has set the wheels in motion to establish a set of standards.

• Village fees and/or resort fees on bills at HarborWalk and other places are used for seasonal events, including fireworks, Fat Tuesday parades, Rock the Docks and more.

• Beach wheel chairs are offered to the public free of charge and are currently available at the Shirah Public Beach Access.

• Crews from the Destin Fire Control District have begun patrolling the waters of Crab Island as a result of two drownings this year, as well as a number of near drownings.

• With a unanimous vote, city leaders updated their 5-year strategic goals, trying to incorporate issues that were of the highest priority, broken down into various categories, such as being financially sound/providing service value; world class beach, fishing and harbor; improved mobility and connectivity; high quality of life and safety for families; and quality development and revitalization.

• City leaders and affected property owners along Regions Way in Destin agreed that a special assessment was needed to make much needed repairs to this private roadway.

• It’s been six years in the making, but this summer the Destin Beach Safety Lifeguards reigned victorious as they were named national champions in their division at the 2015 Nautica United States Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships in Daytona Beach.

• When Mayor Mel Ponder steps down to run for Florida House of Representatives, the city will appoint an interim mayor, then, at next election, his seat will be up on the ballot.

• The Destin Executive Airport is set to go vertical in September with a new air traffic control tower, which has been through a decade of push-back, discussion and planning.

• Canin Associates recommend the city's Town Center becoming a mixed use hub, with retail, parks, permanent housing and entertainment opportunities.

• Teachers, parents, students and staff braved the heavy rain and thunderstorm for the first day of class at Destin Elementary School.

• A large crowd watched as a female loggerhead sea turtle was released back into the Gulf of Mexico Friday at Henderson Beach State Park. The sea turtle was one of two injured earlier this year that were rehabilitated at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.

• Mobile homes have been a mainstay along the road that leads from Calhoun Avenue to the Destin Marina on the Bay, but will mobile home parks be part of Destin's future?

• Cash users will pay $4 for a one-way trip across the bridge, while SunPass users who make fewer than 40 one-way trips per month will pay $3.

• Proposed Destin amusement park G.I. Joe’s is back on track for construction. Owner Joe Bruner said he is moving forward with plans to put a temporary road on his property in order to begin the building process.

• Canin Associates was recommending to do away with the current Tier System, which guides the intensity and density of developments in the city, in the North (NHMU) and South (SHMU) Harbor mixed use areas.

• Several buildings throughout Destin were vandalized with graffiti, also known as tagging, including the Mae Center along U.S. Highway 98 (Harbor Boulevard).

• Discussion of the two small cell towers placed along Scenic Highway 98 in June was back on the table at a city council meeting as the subcontractor for Verizon Wireless, Southern Light presented new information for the city to review. The towers had been erected without proper permits and before the council members were given a chance to vote.

• The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation donated more than $2 million to 14 Northwest Florida children's charities during a party at Lulu's in Destin.

• When Canin Associates made its recommendations for future development along Holiday Isle, not everyone was happy with the proposal. Part of the concern was that the recommendations go above what is currently the standard set forth by the Holiday Isle Improvements Associations regulations, which differ from the city's development standards.

SEPTEMBER

• A presence in Destin for more than 30 years, Grace Lutheran Church celebrated 10 years in its current location at 4325 Commons Drive.

• A total of 14 charities received more than $2 million from the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

• Since June the city of Destin uses a new approach toward code enforcement. Instead of using a code enforcement board to address issues surrounding city code and ordinance violations, a special magistrate has been appointed.

• Aaron and Ruthann Vipperman moved their popular food truck business, Rollin Smoke BBQ, into the brick and mortar location at Destin Commons.

• In addition to cigarette butts (more than 5,000 collected), food wrappers (630) were plentiful during the Coastal Cleanup, with more than 100 collected at Norriego Point.

• Marine life artist Wyland returned to repaint and refurbish his whaling wall at Legendary Marine.

• Along with the ringing in of the 67th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, the Destin History and Fishing Museum celebrated its 10th anniversary Oct. 1 with free admission to the 5,500 square-foot museum.

• Local celebrities, including The Log's editor, Matt Algarin, rallied together at Bonefish Grill to support arts education and raised more than $11,700 to fund the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s All Kinds of Art.