Okaloosa the Blackwater River that “The Okaloosa” steamboat traveled

Okaloosa County

Located in the Northwest
zone of Florida, in the panhandle, Okaloosa county lies between the two
counties it was made from: Santa Rosa and Walton. Just over one hundred years
ago, in 1915, State Representative William Mapoles decided that a new county
should be formed from parts of Santa Rosa and Walton counties, so he presented
a bill stating such to Florida’s house of representatives. The county was
established on September 7th that year, becoming Florida’s 52nd
county. He decided to call this new county Okaloosa – which means black water
in Choctaw – after a steamboat of the same name.

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Waterways, like the
Blackwater River that “The Okaloosa” steamboat traveled on, are what Okaloosa
county used to distribute its livelihood – mainly lumber, turpentine, and fish –
until the Pensacola & Atlantic Railroad was established in the late 1800’s,
making citizens’ lives easier. Residents of Okaloosa and surrounding areas were
now able to transport their resources across Florida, all the way to the east
coast and a little further North. Communities within Okaloosa lived quiet pioneer-like
lives for quite some time. The county remained relatively undeveloped, with little
to no paved roads, electricity, or telephones until the 1940’s, thanks to military
intervention. It was in the mid-1930’s that the military began setting up in
Okaloosa, and the county soon became home to Eglin Air Force base which, at 724
square miles, is one of the largest in the world. Okaloosa County’s Comprehensive
Annual Financial Report for 2016 mentions that Eglin Air Force Base contains
the Air Armament Center, which is where much of the United States Air Force
weapons are received and thoroughly tested – so it is no wonder Eglin is, and will
continue to be, an important asset to the United States.

Okaloosa is not a
charter county, meaning it does not have its own set of laws and such; it
simply follows the Constitution and general Florida laws. The government of
Okaloosa is run by a board of county commissioners, one for each of its five districts.
Okaloosa County Commission is responsible for the county’s money, ordinances, maintenance,
future planning, zoning and business regulation, citizen health, and creating and
appointing people to boards and committees. It seems that the county prides
itself on being citizen-oriented, preservative of natural resources, and being
economically conscious. All of which are necessary in order to maintain its
status as a popular tourist destination. Okaloosa County Commissioners even
founded an environmental council, about thirty years ago, that focuses on beach
and waterway clean-up, as the beaches of Okaloosa draw in many of its tourists.
This environmental council also assists in keeping the forests and roadsides of
Okaloosa county free of litter.

The budget of Okaloosa
county is mainly spent on initiatives that help its citizens. These, as
outlined in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2016, include: public
safety, physical environment, transportation, human service, and culture and
recreation initiatives. Approximately $250,000,000 of the 2016 fiscal year
budget went toward these citizen-oriented initiatives. According to the County Administrator,
John Hofstad’s, 2018 budget letter to the County Commission, Okaloosa county has
a tentative budget of $378,716,046 for the 2018 fiscal year; this is nearly
three percent higher than that of the 2017 fiscal year. This slight increase in
the budget is meant to support the county’s growth, new positions in EMS, and the
improvement of law and law enforcement.