OKALOOSA County, FL
Okaloosa County is located in the northwestern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Alabama state line. As of the 2020 census, the population was 211,668. Its county seat is Crestview. Okaloosa County is included in the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Okaloosa County was created by an act passed on September 7, 1915, formed from the eastern ranges of Santa Rosa County and the western ranges of Walton County.
Okaloosa is a Choctaw word meaning "black water"; oka means "water" and lusa means "black" in the Choctaw language.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (14.0%) is water. Fort Walton Beach and three United States Air Force bases, (Duke Field in the North and Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field are in the south).
National protected areas
State Parks and Forests
As of 2015, there were 198,664 people and 95,494 households. As of the census of 2010,the population density was 194.4 people per square mile (70/km2).
Link to statistics of racial makeup:[https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/12091]
As of 2015, there were 95,494 households. Within the 2010 census, 33.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.20% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.94.
According to the 2010 census, the population was spread out, with 24.70% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 22.40% from 45 to 64, and 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 102.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.50 males.
In 2015, the median income for a household in the county was $55,880. The per capita income for the county was $28,902. 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line.
The county's public schools come under the Okaloosa County School District.
Northwest Florida State College serves over 10,000 residents of Okaloosa County annually for bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and certificates. The college maintains four campuses in Okaloosa County: Niceville, Crestview, Ft. Walton Beach, and Hurlburt Field, and one campus in Walton County, FL.
Okaloosa County is served by the Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative. Formed in October 1997, the Cooperative originally included the county and the cities of Crestview, Mary Esther, and Niceville. The cities of Fort Walton Beach, Valparaiso, and Destin all joined the Cooperative by the year 2000. The Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative is governed by an independent inter-governmental agency with 7 members and 6 alternates. Current Governing Board members include Nathan Boyles representing Okaloosa County, Shannon Hayes representing the City of Crestview, Florida, Rodney Braden representing the City of Destin, Florida, Amy Jamieson representing the City of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Bernie Oder representing the City of Mary Esther, Florida, Bill Schaetzle representing the City of Niceville, Florida, and Kay Hamilton representing the City of Valparaiso, Florida.
Libraries in the Cooperative operate with a combination of County funding, distributed according to library productivity and municipal expenditure, and funding from each respective city. All libraries in the Cooperative offer computers and wireless access for public use, books and other items for physical checkout, and access to e-books, audiobooks, and digital magazines for checkout via Overdrive and RBDigital with a library card. The Cooperative partners with the Florida Department of Children and Families for social services registration, the Right Service at the Right Time] guide for local assistance resources, and the [https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/ Florida Division of Elections for voter registration assistance. Other services the Cooperative offers include a career center, job fairs, career counseling, income tax preparation, homework assistance and tutoring, meeting rooms, study spaces, classes and cultural events for children and adults, research assistance (including assistance with genealogy research), and digital media creation labs.
The Robert L.F. Sikes Library is located in Crestview, FL and was started in the 1940s in the home of local resident Bertha Henry. She started the library using books that belonged to her, her mother, and the lending library at Crestview's Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. After moving locations multiple times as it grew, the library was eventually renamed after Congressman Robert “Bob” Sikes, who served in Congress from 1940 to 1979.
The Destin Library is located in Destin, FL and part of the Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative (OCPLC). It was founded in 1940 as a volunteer-run community lending library with approximately 200 volumes. The library collection was largely donated by Albert Fox of Syracuse, New York. The library was first housed in the Sunday school room of the [http://www.fpcdestin.org First Presbyterian Church of Destin] on Calhoun Avenue. Over the years, the collection was housed in several different locations. The library moved from the church to the upper floor of the old Destin Community Center building and then across the street to the purpose-built library at 108 Stahlman Avenue. The Stahlman Avenue library was expanded to include a thrift shop to support operations by the Friends of the Destin Library. That building is now home to the Destin History & Fishing Museum. In 1989, the library was incorporated into the city of Destin government as a department. It is now supported by city and county taxpayers. The Friends of the Destin Library continue to support library programming and facility improvements. In March 2003, the library moved to its current location on Sibert Avenue. The 13,327 square foot building continued to evolve with the addition of private study rooms and a digital media lab in 2014. Today, the library provides patrons a safe space for selecting materials, reading, researching, studying, writing, and attending library or community sponsored programs and meetings. Property owners and permanent residents of Okaloosa County are issued free library cards at any of the participating six libraries entitling them to the full services of the OCPLC. Fee-based library cards are available for out-of-county patrons and seasonal visitors. The Destin Library's mission is to provide quality professional information services, recreational reading, viewing and listening materials, and programming to the community.
The Fort Walton Beach Library is located in Fort Walton Beach, FL. It was established in 1927 by the Women's Club in an old Masonic building near the waterfront of the city. In order to keep the library open, they would rotate services during the days of the week, each service offered on a particular day of the week. The library ended up closing to the public after donating all of its inventory to the local high school to help them meet their requirements to the students. In 1954, the Business and Professional Women's Club helped the Women's Club to re-establish the public library, and it is thriving today.
The Mary Esther Public Library was first proposed in 1974 and was approved, taking up only a space of 585 square feet. After a new building was provided in 1988, the library's popularity and utilization continued to grow. In 1990, a grant was approved to construct a brand new library and it was opened to the public in 1992. In 2004, the library was expanded and it thrives today serving the citizens of Mary Esther, FL and Okaloosa County.
The Niceville Library became a part of the library cooperative in 1997 in Okaloosa County. The library buildings include the main public library, a community center that hosts events and a public children's park and splash pad.
The Valparaiso Community Library is located in Valparaiso, FL. It began in 1973 with a modest collection. Eventually it expanded to include genealogy research which helped to expand its collection. In 2007 the library was awarded a state library construction grant. While it is one of the smaller libraries, it continues to provide the same type of services to the community.
Emerald Coast Rider (formerly Okaloosa County Transit) operates bus services in the county.
Okaloosa County is one of the most conservative counties in Florida. Incumbent George W. Bush won the county in 2004 with 78% of the popular vote and in 2008 the Republican candidate John McCain polled 72%. Mitt Romney won the county in 2012 with 73.86% (69,785) of the popular vote, while Donald Trump won 70.42% (71,893) in 2016. A testament to how conservative Okaloosa County is, Donald Trump won 51 out of 52 voting precincts in the county.
Other unincorporated communities
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