Persistence and time were required to see the reality of a new University of Florida Extension facility in Okaloosa County.
This project goes back to at least 1999. But Master Gardener Lockey Buhrow remembers that former Okaloosa County Extension Director, Gerald Edmondson, told her class about the possibility of a new Extension Office back in 1998. The first request for funding of the building through a grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), dates back to 1999. But the idea and planning for a new facility predates the request for funding.
During the time it has taken for this project to become a reality, we’ve been through two county managers, three state governors, two state commissioners of Agriculture, numerous county commissioners and two County Extension directors. We had the “rug pulled out from under us” at least three times in the process of gaining funding and land.
After years of working with FDACS, various boards of county commissioners, Crestview City Council, county managers, state politicians, local advisory committees, support groups and other county departments, Okaloosa County Extension is proud to announce we now have a new UF/IFAS Extension Office. In addition to Edmondson, former state senator Durell Peaden and former state representative (now State Senator) Greg Evers were instrumental in securing grant funding through FDACS for the facility.
During the Grand Opening, held on Monday, Nov. 5 at the new facility (3098 Airport Road in Crestview), I thanked many people for their help in making the facility a reality. This included Gerald Edmondson, county commissioners, County administrator Jim curry, many county department heads and their employees, Extension faculty and staff, master gardeners and other volunteers and Dr. Pete Vergot (Northwest Florida District Director with UF/IFAS). But I mistakenly left out an important person. That is Linette Jerkins, now retired office supervisor with the Extension Office. Linette was employed with Okaloosa County for 38 years and assisted Gerald with much of the paperwork for the FDACS’s funding. Thank you Linette and forgive me for not recognizing you at the Grand Opening.
I’d also like to thank AVCON Engineers and Planners, Westerra Development, Mike Moulton Cosntruction, Linc Grant Construction as well as vrious county departments for a job well done in the engineering, design and construction of our new facility.
UF/IFAS Extension has been a part of Okaloosa County since 1917. Extension had been in the older facility on Old Bethel Road since the mid-’50s. We outgrew that facility years ago. The new building will be named in honor of Gerald Edmondson.