Freeport resident restoring historic home

The old McCaskill/Brown home in Freeport about to get some TLC. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The old McCaskill/Brown home in Freeport about to get some TLC. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A historic home in Freeport will soon be brought back to life after many years of neglect.

Local resident, and new owner of the home, Kevin Bloom has big plans for the Queen Anne style home built in the late 1800s. Bloom drove by the deteriorating home located on North Street many times over the years, never giving it a second look. That is, until one day he spotted it up for auction online. He called his realtor and was able to take a quick look at the house just before it went to bidding, and made an offer after viewing what appeared to be a structurally sound building.

“A pig in the poke,” Bloom said.

Bloom bought the home without any encouragement from friends. It had 29 broken windows and needed a new roof immediately to prevent any further deterioration. With those tasks done, Bloom is replacing floorboards on the porches and will be gradually working on restoring the building to as close to its original condition as possible.

Ina Mae Garrett recalls living in the historic Freeport home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Ina Mae Garrett recalls living in the historic Freeport home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The home was built by Finley McCaskill, a local merchant and father of R.E.L. McCaskill. R.E.L. later occupied the house when he established a lumber mill operation. He purchased the house from L.S. Flourney in 1901 according to Florida Preservation Services ‘Choctawhatchee Bay Survey,’ publication. According to a Bayou Times 1975 newspaper article, the home was built by Alex McCaskill.

The home was fitted out as a hotel that opened in 1915. Marion and Pearlie Brown purchased the house in 1924. Marion was a tugboat captain between Freeport, Point Washington, Fort Walton, and Pensacola. Both Marion and Pearlie worked together hauling rosin from the turpentine mills via the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Ina Mae Garrett shares photo of historic home in its glory days. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Ina Mae Garrett shares photo of historic home in its glory days. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

 

One of Marion and Pearlie’s daughters, Ina Mae (Brown) Garrett recalls living in the old home. Now 94, and still living in Freeport, Ina moved into the house with her parents and siblings when she was four-years-old.

“My father had a sailboat and a launch boat. One day he came home from Pensacola with used furniture for the home. Mother wasn’t happy about that,” Ina recalled.

Ina said her mother was determined to get new furniture as soon as they had the money.

The stately home is located on 2.1 acres across from Murphy Oil near the Four Mile Creek boat ramp. It boasts an out building as well, previously used as a schoolhouse and doctor’s office in the once busy commerce area.

When Bloom acquired ownership of the home all the furniture and most fixtures were long gone. He did manage to find the original claw foot tub and has been able to purchase. Much of the interior’s architectural complements are still intact.

Some folks say there is a ghost that resides at the home, Sally Mathis, an elderly woman who watches over the residence and its occupants. No one knows who she is, but perhaps Sally has been keeping a watchful eye on this grand home all along.

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Ranger program, cookout and a movie at Camp Helen State Park July 23

lodgeCamp Helen State Park is offering a movie, food, and fun with a family-oriented movie, environmental interpretive program, and old-fashioned campfire cookout.

The event will start at 5:30 p.m. in the recreation hall with an interpretive program led by a Florida Park ranger. The program will be followed by a cookout including hotdogs and s’mores, provided by the Friends of Camp Helen.  Each evening will end with a family movie in the Recreation Hall, where seating will be provided.

A parent or guardian must accompany children.

On July 23, “Shark Tale” will be featured.  In this film, a gangster shark boss’s son is accidently killed while on the hunt.  His would-be prey and his vegetarian brother both decide to use the incident to their own advantage. (Rated PG)  The interpretive program topic will be on Jellyfish.

These special movie nights are sponsored by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Friends of Camp Helen State Park.  Admission into the park is free, although donations are requested. Donations will go directly to the Friends of Camp Helen State Park to benefit the park’s resource management projects and interpretive programs.

Camp Helen State Park is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413. Phone: 850–233–5059 :: MAP::

Click here to learn more about Camp Helen State Park.

More information is available at facebook.com/FriendsOfCampHelenStatePark, by calling (850) 233-5059, or by emailing CampHelenFriends@gmail.com.

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Enjoy a guided canoe/kayak tour of the Chain of lakes on the Choctawhatchee River July 25

    Cypress trees tower above as you paddle the Chain of Lakes.

Cypress trees tower above as you paddle the Chain of Lakes.

Time: 9 – 11:30 a.m.

Hosted by Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours will introduce you to some very special places in South Walton.

Meeting location: Northwest Florida State College South College, 109 South Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. Vehicle caravan to event location.

Chain of Lakes is a beautiful slough off the Choctawhatchee River on the East side near the SR20 bridge. Ecology is similar to the Choctawhatchee River, but without strong currents. Birding opportunities are common, and the scenery is stunning. Discussions will vary, but recent local history, Native American history, history of the Choctawhatchee River as a commerce route and natural history of the area are fair game.

Moderate exertion level, depending on wind conditions. Participants are asked to bring at least one quart of water per person, forecast-compatible clothing and personal comfort items (i.e. sunscreen, bug spray, etc.).

There is a small parking fee ($3 cash) at the put-in location. Carpooling recommended.

Personal craft recommended, but rentals can be arranged. Fee is $45 if you bring your own canoe/kayak; $60 includes craft rental.

Space is limited to 8 participants. Minimum of 4. Leader: Karl Renelt

Fee: $60 w rental / $45 without

Call now to register at 850-200-4160. Have your credit card ready and reference number including canoe/kayak rental ($60) - Ref# 91935
BYO canoe/kayak ($45) - Ref# 91934

CANCELLATION & REFUND POLICY:
All events subject to cancellation. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified by email or phone the afternoon/evening prior, and fees will be fully refunded.
CBAecoadventures

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Walton County fishing report for July 10

shellcrackerFishing is great!

Choctawhatchee Bay area: Still good bites of speckled trout and redfish.

Offshore: Good bites of snapper, grouper, and scamp.

Surf: Scattered good bites when you find some clear pockets away from June grass.

River: Fishing on the river is through the roof. Shellcracker, bluegill,

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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Nick’s Seafood Restaurant hosting Kid’s Catfish Tournament July 26

Grand prize: a new boat!

Nick’s Seafood Restaurant is hosting a Kids Catfish Tournament on July 26, 2014. Entry fee is $35 per angler with proceeds to benefit the Backpacks of Love Foundation and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. All anglers must register at Nick’s Seafood at Basin Bayou by 7 p.m. on Fri., July 25.

Rules- Kids age of 14 years or under, Four (4) catfish limit saltwater species. Fishing in the Choctawhatchee Bay or estuaries thereof. Fish may be caught in a boat, on a dock, or from the shoreline. Adults may assist kids with handling fish but may not reel fish in for them. (Baiting and Casting and use of landing net only). Live or artificial bait, rod and reel only, no jugs, cast nets, or noodling. Note: Catfish have three spines use caution when handling these fish. (Cut the line when the fish is in the boat, hooks are cheap.)
Scoring: Heaviest weight for a single fish, and a combined weight of 3 Catfish (saltwater species).
Entry Fee: $35 per angler-All proceeds to benefit the Backpacks of Love Foundation and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA).

Kid’s Catfish Tournament REGISTRATION download.

GRAND PRIZE: A brand new boat by TRACKER MARINE!
Hardhead Division -Total weight of three Hardhead Catfish.
Grand Prize: New Boat by Tracker Marine; 2nd – 5th place, prizes and trophies.
Sailcat Division -Single heaviest Sailcat.
1st – 5th place , prizes and trophies.
The TOP FIVE participants in each division will receive prizes and trophies.
(All fisher girls and boys will be recognized)
GRAND PRIZE: A brand new boat by TRACKER MARINE!
Starting Point: Anglers may start from their desired location in waters on or adjacent to the Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Tournament starts at safe daylight on Saturday July 26th.
Weigh-in time: 4:00-5:00 PM. Scale will open at 4:00 and close at 5:00 PM. Contestants must be checked in with a tournament official by 5:00 to have their catfish scored. Weigh in will be at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant 7585 Hwy 20 West Freeport, FL 32439. 850-835-2222 or 850-830-6161.
**All fisher kids must be registered by 7:00 pm Friday July 25th**.
Mullet Toss for all ages will be held following the weigh-in.

About Backpacks of Love
The Backpacks of Love program is designed to support and help children in need at Freeport Elementary School and other regions of Walton County. Each week, Backpacks of Love helps children dealing with hunger by providing them with a bag of non-perishable and kid-friendly food.
About Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is a local non-profit waterway organization that promotes the health and sustainability of the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary. Their mission is to instill in youth, as well as adults, stewardship practices that will ensure the future of this valuable resource, so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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Alaqua Animal Refuge furever friend of the week

PixieAre you looking for a new love in your life? If so, I am the girl of your dreams – tall, dark, and beautiful! But don’t be fooled by my name – Pixie. I am anything but “pixie”. I am a Great Dane/Lab mix, so I am not exactly small. I have been at Alaqua for almost one year. Do you know that is equivalent to seven years in a dog’s life?

I like it here at Alaqua, but I am searching for my very own home. I just know mine is out there, so take a look at my personal ad and see if you are my perfect match!

Things I love: Walking or running, playing fetch, car rides, heavy petting, playing in the water, giving lots of sloppy kisses.

Best personal attributes: loyal, good listener, housebroken ,neat and clean, happy and goofy, anxious to please, love to give kisses

I am really good at these things: following commands, minding my manners, protecting my human, playing well with others, giving kisses

Things I need: A home to call my own, a family to provide me structure and love, an extra large bed, a human face to kiss

If you think that you might have room in your heart and your home, consider taking me out on a date. I promise to devote my life to you when we fall in love. I will be the girl of your dreams, if you just give me a chance. I promise you won’t regret it. Please come to Alaqua for a date with me. Did I mention I would give you lots of kisses?

For more information about Pixie or any of our other adoptable animals please visit our website, www.alaquaanimalrefuge.org/FindAPet.

Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal refuge located in Northwest Florida. The refuge has placed over 9,000 animals of all kinds since it’s inception in 2007, and has grown to become a recognized leader in animal welfare and animal cruelty prevention.

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Morrison Springs now safe for swimming

Swimmers and divers at Morrison Springs. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Swimmers and divers at Morrison Springs. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Water now safe for swimming, diving

Effective immediately, the Florida Department of Health in Walton County is rescinding the April 29, 2014 swim advisory for the Morrison Springs bathing place.

DOH Walton feels that water quality in this area has improved considerably due to the reduction in bacteria levels.

We will continue to monitor the water quality in this area monthly and routinely advise the public of our results.  For more information contact the DOH Walton at 850-892-8021.

Morrison Springs in northeast Walton County has been a popular swimming and diving destination for generations. The spring releases crystal clear water at a rate of 70 million gallons a day from a deep underground limestone vent. At a constant 68 degrees, Morrison Springs is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day.

Click here to learn more about Morrison Springs.

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Eco adventure paddle at Morrison Springs in northeast Walton County July 11

morrison1Time: 8:30 a.m.

Hosted by Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours will introduce you to some very special places in South Walton.

Meeting location: Northwest Florida State College South College, 109 South Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. Vehicle caravan to event location.

Learn about Florida’s crystal clear springs as we paddle Morrison Springs in Northeast Walton County. We will explore the spring, then paddle out towards the Choctawhatchee River and back. Learn about our precious water resources, how many millions of gallons of water Morrison Springs emits every day, and where the water comes from.

Bring a snorkel, waterproof camera, sunscreen, and your swimsuit. Pack a lunch if you wish, as there is a pavilion and restroom facility available at the park. The event and swimming is dependent on river conditions.

Moderate exertion level. Basic kayak/canoe knowledge required. The paddle is approximately 2 hours. Travel time approximately 45 minutes each way. (Vehicle caravan; transportation not provided.)

Leader: Lori Ceier, Walton Outdoors. Space is limited to 8 participants. Minimum of 4.

Location: Meet at South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College, 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. Vehicle caravan to event location.

Fee: $35 for the tour – Pay at time of registration. Plus canoe/kayak rental fee of $35 – paid in cash or check directly to the outfitter the day of the tour. Specify kayak or canoe preference at the time of registration.

Call now to register! 850-200-4160. Have your credit card ready and reference number June 6 – Ref# 91951, July 11 – Ref# 91952

CANCELLATION & REFUND POLICY:
All events subject to cancellation. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified by email or phone the afternoon/evening prior, and fees will be fully refunded.

Individual cancellations will be accepted and fully refunded up to 1 full business day (24 hours) prior to the tour. No-shows forfeit entire payment.
CBAecoadventures

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Explore The Outdoors Festival comes to DeFuniak Springs Oct. 11, 2014

postcardfront2014A great day of outdoor fun in store

Walton Outdoors is excited to announce we will be hosting our annual Explore The Outdoors Festival on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. The event will be held from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. along the beautiful lakeyard in DeFuniak Springs along Circle Drive. This fun-filled day is geared towards introducing children to the wonders of exploring the outdoors. Hands on activities will include fishing, boating, kayaking, wildlife encounters, interactive educational exhibits, nature-based crafts and much more. The event is free. The water activities are geared for children six-years-old and up. Food vendors will be on hand.Exploretheoutdoors2012

Activities and exhibits include:
• Fish Florida rod/reel giveaways
• Fishing from the pier with experts
• Fishing education with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
• Kayaking with Snaggy Bend Outfitters
• Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge wildlife exhibit
• Birding with the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society
• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife interactive
• Wildlife and education with E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
• South Walton Turtle Watch exhibit
• Topsail Hill Preserve State Park exhibit
• Henderson Beach State Park exhibit
• St. Andrews State Park exhibit
• Northwest Florida Astronomy club
• Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance touch tank
• Smokey the Bear and his friends from Forestry
• Deitrich’s Honey Farm
• Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute
• Eglin Aero Modellers demonstrations
• Tri-County Head Start fun
• Florida Public Archeology Network
• Geocaching around the lake with Walton County Health Department
• Nature based crafts. 

Walton Outdoors is currently seeking sponsors for the festival. Engaging children in the outdoor experience sparks an interest in learning more about the world around them. This festival is designed to engage the children in learning while having fun.

Without community support with sponsorships, this great event would not be possible. That is why we are asking for your support. We are seeking sponsorships on three levels:

$400 – Your logo on all promotional material including posters, print ads, and online promotion.
$300 – Your name in large print on all promotional material including, posters, printing, and advertising.
$200 – Your name featured on all promotional material including, posters, printing, and advertising.

If you would like to learn more about how you can sponsor this great event, send us an email at info@waltonoutdoors.com

About Walton Outdoors: Walton Outdoors is the online resource for outdoor adventure in Walton County, Florida and surrounding area. Our mission is to educate and share news about great places to explore and showcase outdoor family-oriented events. For more information call (850) 267-2064.

Thank you sponsors:

gulfcoastinsulation-logo

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Walton Outdoors wishes you a happy Independence Day

declaration

Click here to listen to the Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

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