Okaloosa County Establishes County Advisory Board for Destin – Ft. Walton Beach Airport

On Tuesday, May 2nd, the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 to establish the Okaloosa County Airport Board (OCAB), an agency tasked with using the ideas and resources of local experts to help grow and promote the Okaloosa County Airport System.

Much has changed in the past two years with our Airports.  Airports Director Tracy Stage and his team have brought our system of airports to a new day.  The County’s Airports combined are an economic engine with wide reaching impacts locally and regionally.  VPS has become one of the fastest growing airport in the State of Florida with record breaking passenger counts which are projected to climb over 1M passengers this year and continue to climb for years to follow.  Over 117 new jobs have been created since January and additional economic returns are in the tens-of-millions.  Bob Sikes Airport is positioned to be a significant player to capture new industry and new jobs.  Destin Executive will soon be a controlled field with close coordination with our military partners due to the recently christened, General Leroy Manor-Air Traffic Control Tower.

Chairman Ketchel, who organized and established the Okaloosa County Airport Board, said “I have met with major DOD contractors locally, and most recently in D.C. It is imperative to establish this committee now to harness potential economic changes due to the administration’s major initiative pertaining to ‘Buy American, Hire American.’ Further, I have assembled the best of the best, top, local talent, whom have all agreed to volunteer their time and knowledge to assist and make recommendations in the best interest of the citizens of Okaloosa County, and the airport system.”

Goals of the OCAB will include providing recommendations to the Director of the Department of Airports concerning operational issues, and the coordination of the respective activities and functions of the County Airport System with the United States Air Force. The OCAB will also help identify and provide economic development initiatives at the County Airports, and to coordinate those efforts with the Economic Development Council and other entities.

A public hearing will be held at the May 16 Board of County Commissioners meeting to amending section 2-59 of the Okaloosa County Code.

The OCAB will consist of eight members, including:

  • Chairman Carolyn Ketchel
  • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Michael Wooley
  • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Gordon Fornell
  • Major General (Ret.) Richard Secord
  • Major General (Ret.) Gary McCoy
  • Dr. David Goetsch
  • Mr. Don Harrington
  • Mr. Chip Cool
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