HOLT, Fla., Jan. 1, 2018–Here’s a look back at the top stories from Holt in 2017.
Three new businesses opened in Holt during 2017, Dollar General in January and Cathy’s Creations and B’Geai’s Salon in June.
Dollar General opened a retail store in Holt in January. The store has more square footage than the Baker store, according to manager Bill Goetz, who moved to the Holt store from the one in Baker.
Cathy’s Creations, a boutique and embroidery shop shares the real estate with B’Geai’s Salon, creating Holt’s first “strip mall.” Store owner Cathy Ates and her daughter-in-law, Bobbie Jo Ates will soon share the space with Cathy’s son, Matthew when he opens Rugged Earth Taxidermy Inc. later this year.
Holt Fire District improved its services classification, it was announced in February. Following an inspection in the previous year, the Fire District went from an Insurance Services Office classification of 7/9 to a 5/5x rating meaning the majority of the community it serves lives within 5 miles of a station or 1,000 feet of a hydrant. Classifications range from 10 to 1 with 1 being the best.
Holt Water Works Inc. released its annual drinking water report in May which showed the utility met all state and federal requirements.
An altercation at the Holt Post Office in July resulted in the arrest of Stephen Lee Chambers of Crestview, who is a registered sexual offender. Items found in his car may be linked to an ongoing counterfeiting investigation by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Work began on a new public park and community center located on Holt Fire District-owned land just east of the downtown area. Scheduled to be complete this fiscal year, the park will have picnic areas, a playground, walking track and community center with a covered pavilion. Additionally, a new fire station will be built on the property as soon as grant money can be secured.
Southern Tactical Range is working on a 211-acre firing range for members and the public. The area will include paintball and archery ranges, a sport clay range, 25-, 100-, 600- and 1,000-yard shooting ranges, as well as a tactical city area.
Holt Academy turned its hallways into a Christmas wonderland this holiday season. The teachers and administrative staff competed against each other for best decorated hall. Judges had a tough time deciding between The Polar Express, Santa’s Workshop and the Gingerbread Village hallways. In the end, the Gingerbread Village came out on top for best decorated hall.
Finally, the entire 2017 hurricane season was one for the record books. Colorado State University’s early season prediction of four hurricanes and 11 named storms in April was adjusted upward to 13 names storms and six hurricanes with two of the six being major storms. Storms started spinning up with pre-season Tropical Storm Arlene in April and ended with 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes with six of the 10 being major storms of a category 3 or higher.
This record-breaking season was the fifth most active since 1851. All 10 hurricanes occurred in a row, the greatest number of consecutive storms. Besides being the costliest, the season was one of only six years on record with multiple category 5 hurricanes, and the second to have two of that intensity make landfall. While it hasn’t been announced, it’s likely the names Harvey and Maria will be retired from the hurricane name list because of the destructive power of these two storms. Areas impacted by are still struggling with recovery efforts.