MILTON — In Milton since 1989, Vernon Compton has spent over two decades serving Santa Rosa County and Northwest Florida in various volunteer organizations, mostly of a historical or outdoor recreation nature.
He’s worked as the project director for The Longleaf Alliance since 2010 and still volunteers with the Tourist Development Council, the Santa Rosa Historical Society, Main Street Milton, Blackwater Heritage Trail Inc., the Florida/Alabama Transportation Planning Organization, the Blackwater River Foundation, and the Florida Trail Association.
In 2014, Compton ran for Milton City council Ward 1, Seat 2 and lost to Jimmy Messick.
In 2016, former Milton Mayor Guy Thompson filed an ethics complaint against Compton and his partner, Mack Thetford, with attempting to manipulate road construction for personal gain. The Florida Commission on Ethics found no probable cause on all aspects. [Editor's Note: The Press Gazette had management and staffing changes during this case and did not properly correct the record about Compton being cleared of ethics concerns. We are happy to do so now.]
Now we catch up with Compton.
What would you like to see for the future of Milton?
I would like to see Milton again continue to grow as a vibrant, lively river town with local businesses and events while preserving the Blackwater River and our history and historic buildings. Residents, businesses, and organizations continue working together to continually strive to improve the city.
What interests you about the history of Milton?
I have always had an interest in history and was drawn to Milton the first time I visited northwest Florida. The city is one of the oldest in the State of Florida, being incorporated in 1844. And throughout that history, and through many disasters ranging from hurricanes to floods to fires, the citizens and businesses have always rebounded.
How a person or a community deals with adversity says so much about that community, and Milton has always been so resilient. They have been so by working together, including working together to preserve the history and buildings that mean so much to many. It is one of the things that make Milton so special.
What role do you envision business has in Milton?
For Milton to thrive, it is important for the community to support current businesses and to foster the growth of new businesses. Those opportunities exist throughout the city, including the downtown and riverfront. Being welcoming to new ideas, entrepreneurs and potential new businesses will help the city become identified more and more as a business-friendly community resulting in more local business development and retail, restaurant, and entertainment options for residents and tourists alike. It is great to see how having a positive business climate draws business to a community.
Do you see yourself ever running for office again?
I love serving my community and doing all that I can to make it a better place. I am open to serving the community in the future in ways that the community needs me most.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to volunteer and help with community projects and with community organizations. Many of those are centered on environmental, history and historic preservation, or bicycle/pedestrian improvement projects.
I have worked with others to plant thousands of trees in the areas, plan and build miles of trails, and to preserve and restore several historic buildings. I love the abundance of forests and parks and rivers and creeks we have in the area and spend as much time enjoying them as possible.
I started running in 2012 as a way to spend more time outdoors and as both a personal challenge and one from friends to become healthier. Since that time, I have run many races starting with 5k’s and growing to completing seven marathons and one 50k race in Blackwater River State Forest.
I love the challenge of running, and particularly running longer distances, and especially enjoy how supportive and positive the running community is — always building up individuals and encouraging them to reach their goals.
I am currently assisting with a four-month marathon training program as a pacer.