Tomatoes in the spring garden lecture in Chipley Feb. 25

Date/time: Sat., Feb. 25 – 10 a.m. – 12 Noon

The Washington County UF/IFAS Extension office will be hosting a tomato growing lecture for the spring garden on Saturday, Feb. from 10 a.m. – 12 Noon. The event will be held at Orange Hill Express Store 982 Orange Hill Rd, Chipley

• Best Tomato Gardening Practices
• Tips for Cooking with Tomatoes
• Raised Bed Gardening: Tomatoes and Beyond

Refreshments Sponsored By Orange Hill Express of Chipley. There will be on-site demonstrations, hand outs and door prizes.

For Pre-Registration: Contact UF / IFAS Extension Washington County at 850-638-6180 or or Orange Hill Express at 850-638-9505.

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Hazmat collection day in north and south Walton March 4

Date/time: Sat., March 4 – 8 a.m. – 12 Noon

The Walton Board of County Commissioners is sponsoring a project to collect, recycle, treat and properly dispose of these and other household hazardous wastes:

Pesticides – Used Oil – Stale Gasoline – Solvents – Fertilizers – Paint – Paint Thinners – Paint Strippers – Batteries – Furniture Polish – Brake Fluid – Engine Degreasers – Anti-Freeze – Pool Chemicals – Insecticides – Spot Removers

Waste tire amnesty will also be held on the same date, during the same hours and locations.  Walton County residents may bring up to 12 tires per residence.

Collection times are from 8 a.m. to 12 Noon.

Walton County Fairgrounds, Highway 83 North (9th Avenue), DeFuniak Springs
South Walton Mosquito Control Office, County Road 393,  Santa  Rosa Beach

No gas cylinders or explosives, please.

Due to hazardous nature of certain components in home computers, they will be accepting old computer hardware including processors, monitors, keyboards, printers, scanners, etc.

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (small businesses, schools, growers, etc.) will be accepted at a reduced rate.

For more information or to schedule a drop-off time, contact the Landfill Department at 892-8180.

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Concert at Lakeyard Amphitheatre in DeFuniak Springs March 11

The Special Events Committee of the City of DeFuniak Springs are hosting a free concert on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the Lake Yard Amphitheatre on Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs. The concert begins at 3 pm and will feature singer/guitarist Dwayne Langston.

Langston brings both traditional and contemporary country music in his live appearances. His latest album, “Someplace I’d Rather Be,” is being played across the country and can be heard on I-tunes and Amazon.

As always, this event is provided free of charge through the efforts of the City of DeFuniak Springs and the Special Events Committee. For further information, contact Cindy at 850-892-8500.

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Learn about basic land navigation at Ponce De Leon Springs State Park March 11

Date/time: Sat., March 11, 10-11 a.m.

Join special guest speaker Chris Mize on a ranger led hike at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. Chris will use his experience from serving in the Army Light Infantry to help give introductory map reading tips and land navigation techniques to help you be better prepared for your next wildland outing. Whether you like to hike cross country, take overnight backpacking trips, or want to know what to do if you lose track of your trail, this hike will be a value to anyone who ventures outdoors. Chris and the Ranger will provide advice on how to plan a trip, read a map, use a compass, and find your way out of the woods.

All participants should meet at the Ponce de Leon Springs State Park parking area. From there we will travel to a less frequented section of the park for the hike. Bring proper footwear for uneven terrain. The hike will be along a mowed service road, but participants may want to take part in some off trail travel. Weather can vary at this time of year so dress appropriate for the predicted conditions. Feel free to bring your own compass or GPS. A few compasses will be available for use.

Entry fees will apply.  $4.00 per vehicle, up to 8 people in the vehicle.

Participation Requirements

More Information call Fred Provost 850-836-4281

Driving Directions
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park Area is located one half mile south of U.S. 90 on C.R. 181A in Ponce de Leon, FL. ::MAP::

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Father of South Walton Mosquito Control District recalls the early days of Santa Rosa

Vernon Bishop sharing his memories of South Walton Mosquito Control District and local history. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

On Feb. 15, 2017 Vernon Bishop, the founder of South Walton Mosquito District (District) shared his memories of area history and the District.

At 93, Bishop recalled the early days of growing up in Santa Rosa, in an area near Santa Rosa Bayou (Hogtown Bayou). Growing up wasn’t easy as there was no electricity, or even a bridge across the Bay until he reached his teenage years. The only transportation was by boat, with staples arriving from Pensacola.

Dirt road leading down to Santa Rosa Bayou area, (now CR393) looking north from U.S. Hwy. 98. The Lynn Neally house is on the right. This area is now the office and headquarters of South Walton Mosquito Control Disrict. Photo courtesy Vernon Bishop

Farming in Santa Rosa was a daunting task, as there were mosquitoes along with dog flies in abundance. Cattle farming in particular was very challenging.

“I remember the cattle would stampede into the Gulf to escape the dog flies. They submerged themselves and all you saw were their noses sticking out of the water,” Bishop said.

In the 1940s electricity finally arrived on the south side of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Bishop, grown up, married Loyce Brown, and shortly thereafter served in the Army during World War II. After the war ended, Bishop opened a grocery store, and the couple parented two sons, Terry and Michael.

A resident picking up his mail from the Santa Rosa Post Office. Photo courtesy Vernon Bishop

“There was a post office and a general store in Santa Rosa, however, after a heavy rain or major storm, you would need a rowboat to get to them. There were no phones, I had to drive to Freeport and use a crank up phone to order supplies or talk to anyone. The first phone came in 1950, a pay phone at a service station in Frangista Beach, everyone made their phone calls from there. Delivery of supplies from Panama City or Pensacola by freight truck that came through once a week, so supplies took at least a week to get here,” said Bishop.

In 1952 Bishop opened a service station and got his own phone. The business provided the means to raise their family, and he continued operating the service station until 1969. The first hotel on the beach was also built in 1952, marking the start of the tourist industry in South Walton.

Boys and their hand made boats at Santa Rosa Bayou (now Hogtown Bayou) around 1915. Photo courtesy Vernon Bishop

In the early 1960s, with roads being paved hotels being built, and tourism starting to expand, the Walton County Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club could see the potential for South Walton. There was one major problem … insects. Noseeums, deer flies, mosquitos, and dog flies plagued the area.

South Walton, north of the sand ridge that runs parallel to the beach was basically a swamp, insect heaven all the way to the Choctawhatchee Bay.

“If you were outside working during the day, you needed to be in smoke to keep the insects off of you. If you wanted to go outside and work in the garden, you had to wear longs sleeve shirts, pants, socks, gloves, and an insect net over your head,” Bishop said.

The Jewell freight boat circa late 1920s-30s. Vernon Bishop frequently boarded the boat. His uncle Ralph Thomsen was the engineer. Photo courtesy Vernon Bishop

Something needed to be done. Bishop and his fellow Lions understood what needed to be done. According to Chapter 388 of the Florida Statues, better know as The Mosquito Control Law, counties or parts of counties could become independent, tax supported mosquito control districts by petition. The petition required 15% or more of the residing property owner signatures in the proposed district. The Lions Club members got the needed signatures and presented the petition to the Board of County Commissioners who approved. The Commission members were Louis Genevieve Maxon, Edwin R. Walline, and Vernon Bishop. The South Walton Mosquito Control District was officially established on May 26, 1964.

The District’s initial budget was $23,000; $11,500 from local millage tax, and $11,5000 from State matching funds. Even by assessing property owners at the maximum level of millage allowed it was difficult getting the program off the ground.

The District’s responsibility included the control of other pestiferous insects, not just mosquitoes. Fly control was a problem as tourists and businesses would dump their garbage throughout the woods. The result was hordes of houseflies. To solve the problem the District got permission from St. Joe Paper Company to use their land, free of charge, to operate landfills. The dragline dug the trenches, the trash was dumped, and the bulldozer covered it with dirt. Initially there were four landfills; Eastern Lake area, Blue Mountain Road, Mack Bayou Road, and East Point Washington Road. In 1974 the landfills were consolidated into one center location, Blue Mountain. It was open 7 days a week and provided a garbage disposal for South Walton residents free of charge. In the early 1980s the County took over the landfill and operated it as a non-hazardous waste landfill until its closure in the early 90s.

In 1969 Bishop stepped down from the County Commission and became the District’s director. Realizing the mosquito habitat was extensive and knowing source reduction was the only permanent way of control mosquitoes in South Walton, Bishop went to work. Working hand in hand with the Florida Dept. of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), Office of Entomology, the Florida Dept. of Transportation (DOT), and the area property owners, the District began what would not only reduce mosquito populations on a permanent basis, but also provide what would become the flood control system for South Walton.

Today there are 47 ditches maintained by the District. These ditches have lowered the water table allowing water to percolate instead of stand on the surface, thus eliminating mosquito habitat and making land developable. Also, because their outfall is to the bay, stormwater is quickly conveyed, avoiding the flooding of property that would occur without them.

Vernon Bishop retired from the District in 1985.

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Walton County fishing report for Feb. 15

Fishing is good

Bay: Still a good trout bite going on along with more sheepshead reports.

River: Great reports of bass biting and crappie starting to bite.

Shore: A few reports of pompano.

Hunting: Primitive weapon season opening just in time for rut.

Click here for fishing forecast

Bay and river report brought to you by Copeland’s. “Where the locals shop and the tourists are welcome.”

Click here to find out more about Copeland’s.
Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop
17290 U.S. Hwy. 331 S
Freeport, Florida 32439

(850) 835-4277
Store hours:
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun.: Closed

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