Local business leaders change the culture of South Walton


Sunshine Turtle Express up and running.

Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 12:23 PM.

Scenic Hwy 30A in South Walton County welcomes the Sunshine Turtle Express on May 24. Free to the public, this transportation program is privately funded by local business leaders dedicated to changing the culture of the area. John Finch, owner of Sunshine Shuttle & Limousine, sees this as a jumping off point to expanding public transportation county line to county line.

“We can no longer sit and hope the traffic conditions improve,” Finch said. “As the TDC has reported, a trolley service is no. 4 on the list of what the public wants implemented in South Walton County. The leaders we’ve worked with know investing in a system that will benefit everybody means positive change.”

Those leaders include Robert Davis and Pam Avera, Town of Seaside; Johnny Earles, Grayton Bar & Grill; Chip Haring and George Hartley, V Seagrove Restaurant: Oli Petit, Red Bar; Grant Blackwell and Billy Buzzett, Grayton Beach Neighborhood Association; Skip and Victoria Moore, 723 Whiskey Bravo; and Jane and Marie Solomon, 850 Properties.

“We felt it was important to invest in the future of transportation along 30A,” Avera of Seaside said. “We hope this pilot program will be a catalyst in furthering support of public transportation to benefit both visitors and locals. Cars should become the second, if not third, form of transportation on 30A; not the first.”

Finch and Alan Roberts, VP of Sales and Marketing, sought funding from several sources. A private system was not only expedient, but also collaborative.

“I think what Sunshine did was great,” said Grant Blackwell, president of the Grayton Beach Neighborhood Association. “Bringing seemingly competitive businesses together for the greater good took a lot of persistence. Like their program at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, unified funding works.”

Stops are Grayton Corners, Grayton Bar & Grill, Seaside, V Seagrove, 723 Whiskey Bravo, and Publix on 395. A live map showing all stops and the Turtle Express vehicle in real time will launch on May 24, viewable on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. 

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