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

Pam Griffin

JANUARY

• The site of the recently closed Fisherman’s Wharf undergoes a facelift to prepare for a new tenant, also a restaurant.

• Residents and business owners made one thing clear at City Council meeting. They do not support the idea of reducing alcohol sales hours in Destin.

• Henry Portorreal, a maintenance technician in the public services department, was named the 2014 Employee of the Year Award by the city of Destin.

• Destin United Methodist Church opened its new cold night shelter to record numbers, up to 32. Blankets, pillows, warm clothes and two warm meals were provided by area churches.

• New Media Investment Group Inc. completed its purchase of Halifax Media Group, which owned The Destin Log and 35 other newspapers across the country. With the purchase, GateHouse Media, a subsidiary of publicly traded New Media, will operate newspapers in 27 states, reaching about 14 million people monthly.

• Okaloosa County and Florida’s Auditor General continue to disagree over the use of bed tax money to pay for lifeguards.

• Destin Fire District gets new command vehicle using impact fees, allocated funds from area builders.

• The new Henderson project will be anchored by the 171-room luxury resort hotel, The Henderson.

• Merlin’s Pizza, a Destin staple for the past 15 years, begins renovations to make the local pizzeria more of an restaurant-style place.

• Crews removed almost a dozen 20-gallon gasoline filled containers barrels that washed ashore on the beach near Cabana Club.

• Crews from the city of Destin began dismantling a metal storage building behind the old Pottery Barn location on Airport Road, the site that was slated to become the city’s first strip club.

FEBRUARY

• City applies for state funds to help with storm water and flooding in the Heritage Run subdivision.

• Beach Cruiser, a self-powered beach wheel chair, has made its way to Destin beaches.

• Destin’s newest food truck, Smoke on the Harbor, features BBQ from New England.

• AJ’s Club Bimini was named one of the top 100 nightclubs in the country by Nightclub and Bar.

• Mayor Mel Ponder speaks to honor and accomplishments in State of the City Address.

• Jimmy John’s and Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria have both signed on to be the newest restaurants at Grand Boulevard.

• Significant repairs are in order at the City Hall Annex as tests revealed that the exterior stucco walls have been absorbing water for years, resulting in wood rot and water damage.

• Phase two of the $125,000 Indian Bayou drainage pipe replacement begins and a small portion of the Indian Bayou Golf Course will see a temporary closure.

MARCH

• County officials and businesses work to attract new tourists during the shoulder season.

• The old Fisherman’s Wharf building is undergoing a complete renovation to accommodate the new restaurant, Brotula’s.

• The City will seek funding for a $300,000 pedestrian improvement project along Calhoun Avenue through the Florida Department of Transportation, including a 10-foot wide pathway from the west side of Calhoun to the north side of U.S. Hwy. 98, as well as extending east on Zerbe Street and connecting to the public parking lot.

• This year the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation celebrates its 20th year, and the first item on the agenda is to commemorate all those who have gone before, and to thank all the community members that made the organization successful.

• The five-way intersection along Kelly Street nears completion.

• Twenty street signs have been stolen this year from the Crystal Beach neighborhood.

• A coyote was spotted near the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

• A memorial at Destin Airport for the 11 servicemen who died in a helicopter crash grew with countless American flags flapping in the wind, red and white roses, patriotic balloons, personal messages and even a Marine Corps flag.

• Since late last year, city officials have been looking into whether or not they had the ability to regulate occupancy limits in short term rentals.

• Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry talked to a gathering organized by the Republican Women Okaloosa Federated held at the Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin.

• Beach Community Bank added the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation as a defendant in foreclosure action taken against the YMCA of Florida’s Emerald Coast in an attempt to prevent the foundation from selling the property where the YMCA now stands.

• Allen French shared his vision of beautifying Destin as he and three other community members, David Pleat, Jason Conner and Jerry Sullivan, launched Trees Destin, a non-profit aimed at planting trees and educating the public of their importance to the environment.

• William Hatfield, editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News and former editor of The Destin Log for seven years, stepped down to take the job as new executive editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.