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Author: Riley Hansen

Support for former missing autistic teen pours in

Now, Jenkins is receiving help from the community to put up a fence at her new home in Milton to keep Howey safe.

The fence at Jenkins’s old Crestview house was chain link, and it was only about four feet high. Howey, though only 14, is over six feet tall, making it easy for him to climb over the fence. May 6 was not the first time he has left home.

“He is in sensory overload mode,” Jenkins said of her son in situations like this one. Howey will go into fight or flight mode, not understanding that leaving home is dangerous. He just wants to escape whatever is bothering him. “About a year ago…he was missing for 11 hours,” Jenkins said. “The last two times they’ve had to bring bloodhounds to find him.” According to his mom, Howey is a master of hide and seek.

On Friday, May 6, Jenkins called the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office around 7 p.m. to report Howey missing. Jenkins was not pleased with the initial response she received from the sheriff’s office, but many citizens provided their support as well, offering tracking dogs and organizing search and rescue efforts in addition to the bloodhounds, enacted by the OCSO, that went out about a mile and half on the night of May 6.

Jenkins said 7 or 8 officers came to her home around noon on May 7, and they and the over 80 people who showed up to help continued looking for Howey. The officers began canvassing the neighborhood and asking for Ring footage from houses.

The search also went into the woods, where Jenkins said Howey is always drawn. A bloodhound pinpointed an area where Howey should be—Jenkins’s husband, who was walking along with the bloodhound, almost stepped on Howey. Howey was so well hidden in some thick brush that he was almost unable to be seen, right in his own backyard.

Howey walked a mile-and-a-half, then circled back and hid in the backyard. “It was kind of comical—now, not at the time,” Jenkins said. He showed investigators where he hid with a grin on his face—it was not a big ordeal to Howey, though his family would certainly not agree.

Now, Jenkins and her family have made the move to Milton, and they want to put up a six-foot privacy fence to keep Howey safe. The initial estimate for the fence was $4,000, but the price then jumped to double what the estimate said. For Jenkins and her husband, money is tight after putting a down payment on the house. So, she reached out the Facebook community for advice on what to do.

Her initial post about Howey’s disappearance got thousands of comments and shares, so she did something similar for ideas on where to get supplies to build a fence. A large group of people have now offered to come and help the family build the fence themselves, and a GoFundMe page has reached almost half its goal for the money needed for supplies. People all the way to Mobile and Tallahassee have shown support.

“I’m completely blown away that we have so many people,” Jenkins said. It’s a mix of people she knows, as well as total strangers who just want to help. “That wasn’t really what I was looking for or asking for, but I’m just so thankful.”

Volunteers will be going out to the family home in Milton on June 4, and Jenkins expects they can get the privacy fence built in just one day. “It’ll be a little bit of more peace of mind,” she said.

Man falls through ceiling in Milton home

The Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office identified the man as 43-year-old Jerald Otis Williamson of Pensacola. Riles believes he was not in the attic long; when she, her husband and her daughter arrived home around 9 p.m., they did not notice anything suspicious. Around 11 p.m., Riles began hearing loud noises.

“I couldn’t tell they were coming from the attic,” Riles said. At first, she thought her daughter must have dropped something in the bathroom. When the bathroom turned out to be empty, she heard noises near the laundry room. When her daughter came in from her bedroom, Riles knew she was not the one causing the commotion.

“Now we knew for sure it was in the attic,” she said. “Then we heard loud crashing noises in our master bathroom.” The master bathroom had a large crack in the ceiling. The family went out to the garage, where the attic access is located. Noticeably different from when they arrived home just a few hours earlier was the fact that the string hanging down from the attic access was now tucked up under the access door. There was also a large clamp inserted in the garage door.

The police arrived moments after Riles’s husband hung up with them—Riles said officers informed the family they had been looking for someone in the area. Riles and her 20-year-old daughter left the house, and twenty minutes, later they got the call that it was safe to come back.

According to Riles, during those twenty minutes, the SRSO brought in a K9 unit. The dog began barking when it saw the vinyl of the eaves of the house moving, and moments later, Williamson fell through the 20-year-old’s ceiling, and he was apprehended.

It is unclear how Williamson gained access to the house, and Riles can only speculate. Her theory is that Williamson possibly got into one of their unlocked cars and used the garage door opener.

More information will be available as the SRSO releases the arrest report for Williamson. He has been charged with a weapon offense, possession of a weapon, resisting an officer, burglary and property damage – criminal mischief. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Williamson is a registered sex offender.

Paper shortages causing issues across the board

They do all sorts of printing, including commercial, though the majority of their business is centered around direct mail marketing, which includes post cards, letters and other types of mail. In an election year, the stakes are even higher for a company focused on direct mail marketing, as they handle many candidates’ and voters’ items.

For Evergreen, the issue started early this year. Getting stock that was usually easy to get, even in small quantities like a few cases, was much harder, and Barzacchini had to start ordering pallets of those same supplies. The stock also came from farther away, which raised the cost for Evergreen. As time has gone on, some of those papers are now completely unavailable.

“I’ve been extraordinarily proactive,” Barzacchini said. He will buy four or five pallets of stock that he knows he needs in order to stockpile for the future—but he has to pay premium. Now, some of

Evergreen’s products are being printed on stock that was not first or second choice, while their prices have gone up as high as 30%.

“Nobody could have anticipated having this type of climate where things are so hard to get and so expensive at the same time,” Barzacchini said.

Robby Mandel, owner of Dlux Printing, has felt the loss, too. “The pricing started going up a year ago,” Mandel said. The paper shortage itself he noticed at the beginning of the year, similar to Evergreen.
Dlux Printing has actual offset printing presses, and they produce mostly magazines, though they also work with books and signs. They are having trouble getting white paper, most of which is produced outside of the United States. “Probably about 70% of our papers are imported,” Mandel said of the paper in the U.S. Brown paper, or paper that does not have to be bleached, can be produced in the U.S. because the EPA requirements are not as strict as for white paper.

Now, Dlux is taking whatever paper they can get, but their prices have gone up alongside the prices Dlux is paying. “It’s a full-time job keeping track of what paper does come in,” Mandel said.
Restaurant owners in Santa Rosa County are having similar issues. “We’ve not experienced a shortage; everything’s just more expensive,” Tamara Fountain, one of the owners of Windjammers, said.

Other restaurants are having a harder time, like Scooter’s Fish House. Co-owner Vernon Diedrich has not only noticed a 35% price increase, but it’s been much harder for him to get to-go boxes, paper towels, napkins and straws.

“It’s been going on since COVID time,” Diedrich said. Scooter’s utilizes six different vendors for products, which is helpful when one vendor runs out of a product.

The restaurant had an issue getting in the paper boats they use to serve food—Scooter’s needed the five-pound size to fit sandwiches and sides. When they could not get access to that size, they switched to three-pound boats and just used multiple, one for a sandwich and one for a side.

“These days you have to be creative,” Diedrich said. “I think right now it’s the perfect storm.” He believes a combination of gas prices and staffing shortages lead to the current predicament. He also added that petroleum is in everything, including Styrofoam.

A local provider to restaurants, Merchants Paper Company, is having trouble, too. “One, it’s harder to get products,” owner Scott Brown said. “Two, it takes a lot longer than it used to.” Merchants used to receive deliveries in seven to ten days, and now that time is as long as 30 days. For the supplier, the biggest issues are cups, trash bags and toilet paper.

“A lot of our manufacturers say they don’t have the manpower,” Brown said. He’s also noticed an issue getting copy paper, mostly the higher end products and unique sizes.

Barzacchini speculated on what the root of the issue is.

“Nobody knows for sure. I believe it’s a culmination of factors.”

He believes the paper industry was in a downward trend before COVID, but that demand is back up now. However, production went down during the pandemic.

“I just don’t believe the industry has been able to keep up or catch up with where the market demands are right now,” he said.

“It’s affected us in a very significant way,” Joe Barzacchini said. Barzacchini is the vice president of Evergreen Printing & Mailing based out of Pensacola.

They do all sorts of printing, including commercial, though the majority of their business is centered around direct mail marketing, which includes post cards, letters and other types of mail. In an election year, the stakes are even higher for a company focused on direct mail marketing, as they handle many candidates’ and voters’ items.

For Evergreen, the issue started early this year. Getting stock that was usually easy to get, even in small quantities like a few cases, was much harder, and Barzacchini had to start ordering pallets of those same supplies. The stock also came from farther away, which raised the cost for Evergreen. As time has gone on, some of those papers are now completely unavailable.

“I’ve been extraordinarily proactive,” Barzacchini said. He will buy four or five pallets of stock that he knows he needs in order to stockpile for the future—but he has to pay premium. Now, some of

Evergreen’s products are being printed on stock that was not first or second choice, while their prices have gone up as high as 30%.

“Nobody could have anticipated having this type of climate where things are so hard to get and so expensive at the same time,” Barzacchini said.

Robby Mandel, owner of Dlux Printing, has felt the loss, too. “The pricing started going up a year ago,” Mandel said. The paper shortage itself he noticed at the beginning of the year, similar to Evergreen.
Dlux Printing has actual offset printing presses, and they produce mostly magazines, though they also work with books and signs. They are having trouble getting white paper, most of which is produced outside of the United States. “Probably about 70% of our papers are imported,” Mandel said of the paper in the U.S. Brown paper, or paper that does not have to be bleached, can be produced in the U.S. because the EPA requirements are not as strict as for white paper.

Now, Dlux is taking whatever paper they can get, but their prices have gone up alongside the prices Dlux is paying. “It’s a full-time job keeping track of what paper does come in,” Mandel said.
Restaurant owners in Santa Rosa County are having similar issues. “We’ve not experienced a shortage; everything’s just more expensive,” Tamara Fountain, one of the owners of Windjammers, said.

Other restaurants are having a harder time, like Scooter’s Fish House. Co-owner Vernon Diedrich has not only noticed a 35% price increase, but it’s been much harder for him to get to-go boxes, paper towels, napkins and straws.

“It’s been going on since COVID time,” Diedrich said. Scooter’s utilizes six different vendors for products, which is helpful when one vendor runs out of a product.

The restaurant had an issue getting in the paper boats they use to serve food—Scooter’s needed the five-pound size to fit sandwiches and sides. When they could not get access to that size, they switched to three-pound boats and just used multiple, one for a sandwich and one for a side.

“These days you have to be creative,” Diedrich said. “I think right now it’s the perfect storm.” He believes a combination of gas prices and staffing shortages lead to the current predicament. He also added that petroleum is in everything, including Styrofoam.

A local provider to restaurants, Merchants Paper Company, is having trouble, too. “One, it’s harder to get products,” owner Scott Brown said. “Two, it takes a lot longer than it used to.” Merchants used to receive deliveries in seven to ten days, and now that time is as long as 30 days. For the supplier, the biggest issues are cups, trash bags and toilet paper.

“A lot of our manufacturers say they don’t have the manpower,” Brown said. He’s also noticed an issue getting copy paper, mostly the higher end products and unique sizes.

Barzacchini speculated on what the root of the issue is.

“Nobody knows for sure. I believe it’s a culmination of factors.”

He believes the paper industry was in a downward trend before COVID, but that demand is back up now. However, production went down during the pandemic.

“I just don’t believe the industry has been able to keep up or catch up with where the market demands are right now,” he said.

Transit options available in Santa Rosa county

“Santa Rosa County has public transportation, which is a door-to-door service for those that are transportation disadvantaged,” said Shawn Ward, the Community Planning, Zoning & Development Director for the county.

This service assists those who might have trouble getting to medical appointments or going grocery shopping. The program is contracted through the Tri-County Community Council, and anyone interested can fill out an application with them. People who are eligible may not be able to drive for medical reasons, or they simply may not have access to a car for financial reasons.

Para transit is not a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft—the rider must call in advance to schedule their ride, and it’s a first-come-first-serve operation. There is a small fee, usually a few dollars a trip, for the rider, as a limited amount of funding is available. The portion not covered by the fees is handled through the Transportation Disadvantaged Commission.

There are benefits to the para transit service over rideshares. The biggest one is that Santa Rosa County has seen a growth in the population of people who use wheelchairs—rideshares may not have the capability to accommodate those riders, while the para transit service does.

The service may also pick up multiple people if they live along the same route. “It’s really based on the dispatch of the vehicles,” Ward said.

Other public transportation services offered in Santa Rosa County include the American Cancer Society program, Ride On and Park & Ride Lots. The American Cancer Society facilitates rides to and from chemotherapy appointments—a driver will pick up the rider and bring them home.

The West Florida Regional Council handles the Ride On service, which functions as a van or bus pool. This service is for people who might live in the same general area or neighborhood and all work in one central location—Ward cited Navy Federal Credit Union as one such workplace. This service also drops off and picks up, but they can facilitate cab rides for those who might have an emergency and need to leave their place of work early.

The final service offered is Park & Ride Lots, which are a central meeting place for those who are carpooling. They can meet in the lot and leave their car until they return.

While Santa Rosa County offers different levels of public transportation, the question remains as to why there is no fixed-route system similar to Escambia County Area Transit. The county ran a pilot for a similar program, but it concluded in 2012.

“It was lack of ridership,” Ward said. It cost $100,000 to operate two vehicles, and the money brought in by the limited rides was not enough to cover the cost, leaving the transportation largely government funded. The current system still serves those citizens to whom other options are unavailable.

Oceans of possibilities available at county libraries this summer

The libraries have options for kids, as well as some for teens and adults, as well. Children under the age of 11 will read (or be read to) for 15 minutes a day, and they will have weekly challenges to complete. These challenges will help them earn prizes such as a shark tote bag and a paperback book.

The reading time for teenagers is just a bit longer at 20 minutes a day, and they can complete at least four weekly challenges. Completion will earn them a hat and a chance to win a bookstore gift card.

Adults, those 19 and older, will also have challenges to complete—they will earn a shark can sleeve and be entered to win a bookstore gift card.

In addition to the challenges for prizes, SRC libraries will also have preschool story time weekly from June 7 to July 15.

Each story time will have a theme related to “Oceans of Possibilities:” sharks, fish, pirates, mermaids and more. Preschool story times for the different libraries are:

  • n Milton Library, Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • n Navarre Library, Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • n Jay Library, Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • n Pace Library, Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • n Gulf Breeze Library, Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Challenges and story time are not the only options at the libraries. Kindergarten to fifth grade programs, such as presentations from Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, Animal Tales, and a Pensacola Beach lifeguard, will be offered weekly:
  • n Milton Library, Tuesdays at 1 p.m.
  • n Navarre Library, Thursdays at 1 p.m.
  • n Jay Library, Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
  • n Pace Library, Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.
  • n Gulf Breeze Library, Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

All of the programs being offered this summer are free to the public, though some may require registration beforehand.

The importance of summer reading is not lost on the librarians who make it all happen.

Deanna McCarthy-Perkins, the manager of the Navarre Library, said in a statement: “Summer can be a time when children can back track in reading and lose the connection and interest they may have during the school year. Staying present in reading, especially with family, helps solidify reading concepts and keep children on target.”

With all of the options available across Santa Rosa County, it will be easy for kids, as well as adults, to dive into an ocean of possibilities with books this summer! More information on programs and registration can be found on the library website, www.santarosa.fl.gov/libraries.

Reach up, reach out, reach in

“[The church] was planted by First Baptist back in the ‘40s to really reach this community here in Ferris Hill,” said Johnson. He went on to call that mission the continued heartbeat of the church.

Johnson has been the pastor at Ferris Hill for four years now. He got his start doing youth and college ministries in Alabama, but he got the sense he needed to move into pastoral ministry. So, he sent out applications all over the country, and he and his family landed here in Milton.

The response from multiple Ferris Hill members is that the community outreach is what makes Ferris Hill special. “Ferris Hill, it’s a church that is geared toward the community,” Johnson said. “We are an imperfect people, and we recognize that. We don’t try to pretend we are something that we’re not. We value authenticity.”

“For being such a small church, it does a lot of things,” Ashly Graves, the church ministry assistant, said. “The thing that keeps our family here is… they are always serving and always doing things, like, I didn’t even see in bigger cities.”

The church motto is “Reach up, reach out, reach in.” Reaching up means worshiping God, reaching out means taking the gospel here and abroad, and reaching in means fellowshipping with one another at church. Based on their service, Ferris Hill seems to take reaching out very seriously.

“One of our core [identities] is serving the community,” Johnson said. Some projects are done in house, while Ferris Hill partners with other community organizations for others. The main projects include the I-58 ministry (taken from Isaiah 58), which is a food and clothing pantry held at the church every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Families can come in once a month, Johnson said, and take advantage of the pantries.

DeWitt Nobles of Milton has been volunteering at I-58 since December 2021, but she’s been attending Ferris Hill for practically her whole life. “It’s important that we serve the clients with what they need, mostly food and clothing,” she said. She also stressed that the items given out are not low quality—the church gives people what may truly be helpful to them.

In addition to I-58, Ferris Hill has other ministries. A group comes in every Tuesday night and uses the church facilities to offer a soup kitchen to those who need it. Ferris Hill also has a cold weather shelter—the church opens up its fellowship hall anytime the temperature drops below 40 degrees.

This service is for those who are homeless, but also for people who do not have heat in their homes. The cold weather shelter is a large community project—several groups partner with Ferris Hill to make that possible.

Standard church services include Sunday morning worship, Sunday school and Wednesday night services for youth and children. Ferris Hill also offers several adult Bible studies and groups that meet during the week, outside of church.

“The Bible is our foundation for our faith and our practice,” Johnson said. He believes everything should be rooted in Scripture as the primary authority. Ferris Hill’s goal every week is to exalt the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—they want people to come to know God through the work of the Son.

Ferris Hill Baptist Church is located at 6848 Chaffin Street in Milton.

Fentanyl Awareness Day alerts to issue in SRC

“It’s daily. Literally daily,” Crawford Winstead, the Director of Admissions at Twelve Oaks Recover Center, said. “We see people come in with an opioid issue…on average, every day.” Some days, that number is as high as four people.

Opioids are a group that covers several different substances, such as prescriptions like oxycodone, heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl, in a medical setting, is used to help with anesthesia—but even just a few grains of fentanyl is strong enough to kill someone. According to Sergeant Rich Aloy of the SRSO, pure fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine.

“Fentanyl is probably the scariest thing out there right now,” Winstead said. “People are buying a lot of what they think are prescription that are really pressed pills.”

“Fentanyl is generally mixed with other narcotics — or they use them in pill presses,” Aloy said. People take pill presses and make drugs to sell in their garages — oftentimes, dangerous drugs like fentanyl are mixed with prescriptions like Xanax. This is where the problem really lies.” There is no quality control with homemade pills. Where a pharmacist will measure out grams of a medication, those doing it in their homes or garages are doing it by hand. “You never know the level of fentanyl you’re going to get,” he said.

“People that are using opioids seem to be much more desperate,” Winstead said of the psychology behind the drugs. Because such a small amount of fentanyl goes such a long way, it can be a cheaper drug for addicts. “I think that the draw is both financially and from a strength perspective,” he continued.
“We’re actually seeing a lot more people … that strictly use fentanyl,” Winstead said. From a medical standpoint, anyone who is using fentanyl intentionally has likely had an overdose at some point.

Aloy noted that opioid trafficking in Santa Rosa County is common, though the official number is not as high as it could be due to the trade being underground. However, people lacing different drugs with fentanyl is an issue. It’s in pill presses, but it can also be turned into a liquid and used to dip marijuana into — a drug that is legal in some states then becomes deadly.

“If it’s not prescribed to you, don’t take it — because of the danger,” Aloy stressed.

Winstead stressed that there are steps anyone can take to avoid becoming addicted to prescription drugs or opioids. “The smart practice would be to use as prescribed, or less. Do not ask for it if you don’t feel like you need it. Follow your provider’s instruction,” Winstead said. “Everyone has this concept that a pill is going to solve every problem,” he continued. If you have a family history of addiction, avoid pain killers or opioids as much as possible. He also recommended setting up an accountability partner if you have to take a drug like oxycodone.”

Winstead said Twelve Oaks is trying to treat two sides of the same issue. “Almost every client that comes in here suffers from some sort of mental health issue,” he said. Trauma and family histories of substance abuse drive addiction, but treating both sides leads a higher likelihood of success.

Oyster farms are booming business

Instead of harvesting wild oysters, Ryan McAndrew of Emerald Tides farms his own. “You basically, instead of harvesting the wild oysters, you buy the seed oysters from a seed hatchery,” he said. McAndrew and Smith each buy as many seeds as they can, as not all of the oysters will survive.

These two companies started just a couple of years apart—Emerald Tides began working in 2018, and Grayson Bay got started in 2020. The draw for both men is largely environmental.

“The wild stocks can’t keep up with demand,” McAndrew said. Oyster farms fill in the gap and are a more conscious choice, as farms don’t require raking the floor of the bay, as well as taking away from a wild population. Instead, the farms are floating cages with bags filled with those tiny oysters that will grow to be up to three inches in diameter.

“It’s a super sustainable crop,” Smith said. He is a biologist by trade, and his focus is on water quality and aquatic diversity. Oysters are filter feeders, and an adult can filter 50 gallons of water per day, making them beneficial to the other sea life living in Escambia and East Bays.

Smith combined this passion with another—his family. His company is named after his two sons, and his goal is for his kids to have a childhood of growing up on the water, spending time with family and seeing how hard work is done.

Oyster farms are hard work. While “wild” populations of oysters are actually laid down by humans, then collected about three years later, McAndrew and Smith are constantly out in the water.

Grayson Bay oysters are sorted and tumbled, which helps correct the shape and keep barnacles off. Money goes into labor and the cages that keep the oysters for a year or two.

“The price does reflect that added complication,” McAndrew noted. Both companies sell to restaurants, one of which the Grand Marlin on Pensacola Beach.
“By no means is aquaculture or oyster farming going to take the lead on oyster consumption,” Smith said.

He sells his oysters individually, and he said they are specifically curated for a raw bar—not to be battered or fried, which is just one reason he would love to see the wild population come back.

“It’s unsustainable,” McAndrew said of harvesting wild oysters. Apalachicola oysters used to be the standard, but they were fished to the point that now there is a five-year ban on oyster harvesting in the area. A pattern seems to have developed—similar events happened in New York, then Chesapeake.

Approval to farm in East Bay came from the state, which was a year long process for Emerald Tides.

McAndrew chose the area because of the depth, flow and water quality—not to mention, the north shore of Gulf Breeze helps protect the farms from storms. “We are really susceptible to hurricanes,” McAndrew said.

Both companies protect their crops from dangers, such as storms, barnacles and crabs. Crabs and other animals, like drill snails, eat oysters, causing crop to be lost. And both McAndrew and Smith want to keep producing as many oysters as they can.

Ridge changes policy after violence

Effective now, those 15 years and younger will not be allowed in the theater after 6 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays unless they have an adult of at least 25 with them.

The policy comes after two teenagers were involved in an altercation with a woman, according to the incident report. The report tells a few variations on the same story, but a number of details remain consistent across the accounts.

The two teenagers disrupted the movie, and the manager subsequently asked them to leave. After leaving, the two came back, reportedly to find the female’s phone. The male admitted to calling out explicit names to other patrons, and one woman, a 33-year-old from Pace, stood in the aisle to attempt to block them.

The report states that the teenagers threw popcorn at the woman. When she told them she would not tolerate bullying, the physical altercation began. The male teenager began hitting the Pace woman, and a couple of eyewitness accounts state she hit back at this point. The woman’s boyfriend broke up the group, and the police were called; they found marijuana in the male’s backpack.

No arrests were made at the time, as the SRSO followed up on several eyewitness and first-hand accounts, both from the woman and the teenagers. Ultimately, the 33-year-old decided not to press charges and signed Declination of Intent forms for both of the other parties. The woman signed the forms after she received apologies.

“We’ve had a pretty bad influx in the past year,” Jared Mawling, general manager of The Ridge, said, “with more and more kids — parents dropping off kids.” The teenagers are left unsupervised, Mawling added, and management gets complaints; they try to give warnings before kicking anyone out of the building.

According to Mawling, parents oftentimes do not want to acknowledge that their child is the one causing problems.

The Breeze Cinema in Gulf Breeze, owned by the same company, has instituted the same weekend curfew.

Mawling noted that this rule is not for young parents with small kids, who are still encouraged to bring their children. Rather, it is for the “larger groups of unsupervised teens or preteens,” he said.

“And if anything, the same kids that have issues, if they still wanted to come…if their parents wanted to come…Wonderful. We support that,” Mawling said.

Support local and distant missions at The Shoppe

“We’ve both been here since 2013,” Odom said of the store. The Shoppe sells clothes, furniture, housewares, books and knick-knacks — basically, Odom said, anything anyone would want to donate. “We keep our prices really low because there are a lot of people in this community that can’t afford to go to Walmart — or any place else, for that matter,” Odom continued. The Shoppe may be run by St. Mary’s, but it is open to the whole community.

Besides selling goods for low prices, The Shoppe also holds St. Mary’s food ministry. Once a week, families can pick up groceries for themselves. No proof of need is required; typically, a family of four or less will get one bag of groceries, while a larger family will get two. Odom noted that sometimes families will receive more on a case-by-case basis.

“People are really hurting right now, so we’re doing what we can,” Odom said. The funds raised at the store go back to helping people. Here in Milton, that looks like supporting St. Mary’s, but also supporting other local charities, such as the Life Options Center, as well as homeless shelters. Sometimes the volunteers use that money to put people in short-term housing, just long enough for them to get a shower or prepare for a job interview.”

In addition to local outreach, The Shoppe supports congregations abroad. St. Mary’s has missions in Guatemala and Malawi, Africa, and money raised at the store and from donations helps those missions.

A group from St. Mary’s goes to Guatemala every summer to build houses, and in Malawi, money helps build wells and supports a goats-for-widows program, which allows them to eat and feed their families. The church sent money for pandemic supplies, and they also send directions on making soap and starting kitchen gardens. Odom said the father of the congregation sends pictures, and the ideas are starting to catch on and help the people.

The Shoppe may have only started in 2013, but St. Mary’s Episcopal Church has a long history. “It was 1532, I think it was, when the Episcopal Church spun off from the Catholic Church,” Jim Johnson said. It started as the Church of England, and eventually the teachings and the King James Bible made their way over to the U.S. According to Odom, the church is apostolic. “The priests, by succession, have all had hands laid on from St. Peter,” she said.

St. Mary’s itself was established in 1867, and the sanctuary on Oak Street was built in 1878. All the woodwork is over 150 years old, and the women of the congregation sold dresses to buy the main stained glass window in 1900, according to Johnson.

The church is a traditional, liturgical one. “In other words, our gospels are set, so on any given Sunday, you can go in the prayer book and look up what the gospel is going to be,” Odom said. But tradition does not stop St. Mary’s from doing what needs to be done to help people.

The Shoppe started because the Reverend Matthew Dollhausen, father of St. Mary’s, had previous experience with thrift stores. He approached Odom about putting the store in where the offices were and moving the offices to the rectory—he did not need all that space to live in himself.

The only problem was that the city of Milton denied the request. A thrift store was not allowed in the historic district where St. Mary’s resides. “So, this is not a thrift store. It’s a retail store selling new and used items,” Odom said. “That was the only way that we could get permission to do this in the historical district,” she laughed.
St. Mary’s is all about giving back to the community, and The Shoppe is just one way to raise funds and do it. According to Odom, “It’s an active, growing church.”


  • Physical Address: 5842 Commerce Road, Milton, FL 32583

    Mailing Address: 6223 Hwy. 90, #122 Milton, FL 32570

  • Monday - Friday
    8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


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