New year, new motto, more accomplishments planned for Crestview

Brian Hughes | Special to the News Bulletin

CRESTVIEW — The county seat has gone from having a new view to a community coming together and is now raising the bar.

For each year of his administration, Crestview Mayor JB Whitten has created a new motto to serve as city leadership’s inspiration for the year.

This year, he chose “Raising the bar.”

“We started out with ‘A new view for Crestview,’” Whitten said. “We had a new mayor, a new charter, a new city manager, and three new city council members. Our first year was spent getting us all together on the same page and we charted a new direction for the city.”

For 2020, the focus was making sure the community was behind the city’s direction.

“The second year, we were 'A community coming together,'” the mayor said. “We needed to have the community on board.”

This year, he chose “Raising the bar” for Crestview’s motto.

Workers construct a new park and parking lot on Wilson Street opposite the Brackin Building recently in Crestview. The project is a collaboration of the City of Crestview and Okaloosa County.

“We can’t be complacent. We have done a lot of positive things over the last two years, but we can’t just rest on our laurels. We’re always looking forward and raising the bar up another notch,” Whitten said.

Jacob Koon and Danielle Hagan glow an eerie green under multi-colored stage lighting as they perform a dance number during “Friday Night Live,” a Crestview High School Theatre Department talent revue hosted by the city recently.

Accomplishments during the first two years have included, among others:

•Establishing the Mayor’s Cultural Series.

•Starting a Family Movie Night series.

•Commemorating the 70th anniversaries of D-Day and World War II victory.

•Establishing a small business tax rebate program as COVID-19 struck.

•Establishing the Crestview Community Chorus.

•Creating a Crestview RC racetrack through public/private partnerships.

•Starting an annual employee training day.

•Opening a free public disc golf course.

•Starting a community Flashlight Walk with the Crestview Police Department.

•Creating the city’s first Downtown New Year’s Eve Celebration.

•Collaborating with Okaloosa County on a new downtown parking lot and park.

•Establishing constant community outreach through social media and the city’s website.

•Providing live streaming video coverage of city council meetings and videos of city events.

•Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Twin Hills Park.

•Establishing a mayor’s Citizens Advisory Council.

•Designating the historic Bush House as a site for a future Crestview history museum.

•Sponsoring food distributions for residents affected by COVID-19 related job losses.

•Hosting the Okaloosa/Walton Veterans Stand Down for the first time in Crestview.

•Hosting Christmas concerts by the North Okaloosa Community Band and Crestview High School chorus and band.

•Holding the first public downtown Christmas caroling night.

•Partnering with the Main Street Crestview Association to present downtown festivals and parades.

This lot, including land that would be gained by razing the old apartment building at right, could become a third downtown public parking lot in Crestview.

As the new year gets well underway, city leaders are already juggling several concurrent projects for the community, including:

•Creating a community skatepark, a facility that has long been requested by residents.

•Observing the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

•Resuming youth sports after a year off due to COVID-19.

•Collaborating with Okaloosa County to construct a central downtown parking lot and park.

•Pursuing creation of a third downtown public parking lot.

•Starting a free REFIT exercise class at Allen Park.

•Hosting a rescheduled Crestview High School talent show.

“This is just the start for this year,” Whitten said. “New opportunities spring up all the time and we’re looking forward to presenting them to the citizens. It’s going to be another exciting year for Crestview.”