Scenic Walton is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 755 Grand Boulevard, Suite B105, #202, Miramar Beach, Florida 32550



Walton County approves local funding for Inlet Beach pedestrian underpass

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County commissioners took another step this week toward making a pedestrian underpass at U.S. Highway 98 and County Road 30-A a reality. In an unanimous Tuesday vote, commissioners authorized Chairman Bill Chapman to sign documents conveying $1.25 million in county funding for its share of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)-led project. The project has an estimated price tag of $6 million, including landscaping, sidewalk installation and other work.

Walton group working against proliferation of 5G cell towers

Posted Apr 16, 2020 at 3:59 PM

SANTA ROSA BEACH — As 5G cellular communications towers are becoming a more common

sight along Walton County roadsides, an effort to seek some control of that proliferation, or look

for alternatives, is building.

►RELATED: Walton might soon be home to a forest of 5G cell towers

Lauren Catanese, a local real estate agent who also serves on the board of Scenic Walton, said her

organization is joining other community groups in seeking discussions with Walton County

commissioners and state legislators on the local proliferation of 5G cellular communications

towers. Scenic Walton is a nonprofit organization “working to preserve and enhance the beauty

and safety of Walton County,” according to its website.

►RELATED: Cellphone towers attacked as conspiracy theory connecting 5G and

coronavirus gains steam

One of the stated priorities for Scenic Walton, which also is affiliated with the nonprofits Scenic

Florida and Scenic America, is “minimizing the impact of cellular towers and poles,” according to

its website.

A Thursday morning drive along Walton County Road 30A, home to residential and resort

communities including Grayton Beach, Seaside and Seagrove Beach, revealed work at three 5G

cellular sites immediately along the roadside from west of Grayton Beach to Seagrove Beach.

5G service — 5G stands for “fifth generation” cellular technology — provides faster data

transmission, more responsiveness and the ability to handle a larger number of cellular devices.

Walton group working against proliferation of 5G cell towers

Walton group working against proliferation of 5G cell towers - News - The Walton Sun - Fort Walton Beach, FL 5/18/20, 1:04 PM Page 2 of 3

However, because 5G service uses a high-frequency band of the wireless communications

spectrum, it has more difficulty traveling over long distances and through objects. In many

instances, that means towers must be placed within hundreds of feet of each other.

In an email to the Daily News, Catanese conceded the need for improved cellular capabilities in

Walton County.

“Wi-Fi signals and inconsistent internet access are regular occurrences in these parts, especially

during tourist season when the demand on our infrastructure peaks,” Catanese noted.

But, she continued, the short distances over which 5G signals means that the “small cell” towers

required to implement the technology “will blanket our pedestrian pathways along the Gulf, our

beautiful scenic byways and highways, and our roadways in residential neighborhoods.”

In a Wednesday interview, Catanese suggested simply maintaining 4G service, with strategic

location of new 4G towers, or fiber optic service, as alternatives to the continued 5G roll-out.

“To me, it (5G) feels more like a quick fix,” Catanese said, given the downside of the short distances

over which 5G signals can travel.

“There’s no doubt we have connectivity issues,” Catanese said Wednesday. But, she said, 5G is “a

super-invasive technology.”

Catanese also suggested Wednesday that there is an argument to be made that Walton County,

particularly the areas where people spend their vacation and leisure time, could be maintained as

so-called “blue zones,” with a minimum of technological intrusion as a means of promoting


Regardless of how the developing coalition of people interested in addressing the spread of 5G

technology choose to make their case with local and state officials, they will have to contend with a

2017 state law that limits local government regulation, in pulbic rights of way, of the “small

wireless facilities” that are the heart of 5G technology.

Walton group working against proliferation of 5G cell towers - News - The Walton Sun - Fort Walton Beach, FL 5/18/20, 1:04 PM Page 3 of 3

That law was the subject of a Leon County Circuit Court ruling released earlier this month, in a

challenge filed by the Florida League of Cities and the cities of Fort Walton Beach, Naples and Port

Orange. In part, the cities argued that the 2017 state law infringed on local “home rule” powers and

represented an unconstitutional “taking” of property.

The league and the cities named Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee and the Florida Department

of Revenue as defendants. Both Lee and the Department of Revenue argued that their roles had

nothing to do with the case.

Judge John Cooper’s order in the case did not indicate his reasons for dismissing the lawsuit.

As far as the local effort to get the issue in front of government officials, Catanese said the recent

focus on the spread of the coronavirus has, understandably, somewhat slowed their effort.

“We have not met directly with them,” she said. But, she added, “They know we exist.”

Scenic Walton Supports the Matrix Community Outreach Center (Matrix COC)

This week, the devastation of the fire in Santa Rosa Beach compounded the needs of an already afflicted Walton County reeling from the impacts of COVID-19. These crises may have shaken our world, but they have not broken the bond of Walton County. Like the individuals they serve, Matrix COC has felt the impact of COVID-19. Their main source of revenue, their thrift store called The Redemption Boutique, has temporarily closed and they are left depending on donations to continue their efforts through this pandemic and beyond.

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN! Scenic Walton has chosen to support the Matrix COC in an effort to help our neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis, and we hope you will too.

Since 2011 the Matrix Community Outreach Center (Matrix COC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization has been dedicated to improving the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the men, women and children within Walton County. The Matrix has been able to provide individuals and families throughout this community with resources such as bill and utility assistance, employment resources, and food services, including the more recent mass feedings. They customize efforts to meet the needs of those being serviced through a “Hand Up not a Handout” approach. Matrix works with community partners, such as Florida Department of Children and Families, to identify and assist clients in creating more productive lives.

The impact from COVID-19 has reached every corner of our community. This virus has crippled individuals from all backgrounds and sees no boundaries. Since the onset of the crisis, the Matrix has seen huge rise in demand. The organization is remaining true to its mission, while expanding their resources and reach to help those affected. In the last month, they have served over 2,900 families and have distributed over 120,000 pounds of food within Walton County. With the help of their dedicated volunteers and community partners, they have successfully conducted drive-through mass feeding distribution sites and replenished food banks to ensure stability in these uncertain times. In addition to COVID-19, Matrix is also actively responding to the Santa Rosa Beach fire by playing a leading role in feeding and resourcing displaced families.

Walton County Emergency Management Director, Jeff Goldberg, is an avid supporter of Matrix COC. Matrix serves as the Human Services Branch of Walton County Emergency Management during times of disaster. In this function, they oversee the Mass Care Unit, Business and Industry Unit, and Volunteers and Donations Unit. Mr. Goldberg states, “The reason for providing financial support for the Matrix is simple. It is a much-needed expansion of what this organization currently does and an invaluable partner to my organization.”

In addition to the residents they have been able to serve, the Matrix COC is blessed to help serve and support other charities and agencies within the area including Destin Harvest, Walton County School District, Catholic Charities, the Homeless Housing Alliance, Caring and Sharing of South Walton, and the City of DeFuniak Springs, just to name a few. These partnerships were created to ensure all demographics would be served and donated funds could be distributed throughout the community.

Help Make 30A a National Scenic Byway, Email Letters of Support

Scenic Walton is encouraging residents to submit letters of support so that Scenic 30A may be added to the National Scenic Byways program.
The Friends of Scenic 30A and their Chairman, Tonia Nation, have been working hard to prepare a submission packet for 30A, but they 
urgently need volunteers to help with the process.

If you’re willing to help make Scenic 30A a National Scenic Byway, email her
 today at They need letters from the community supporting the Scenic 30A national designation and photos that best represent the Scenic 30A corridor by March 31st.  

The National Scenic Byways program has been dormant for years, but thanks to more than two years of hard work by Scenic America and its allies, this program has been revived. Scenic America is the only national nonprofit that helps citizens safeguard the scenic qualities of America’s roadways, countryside and communities.  

"Scenic 30A received its state designation through the hard work of the wonderful South Walton community banding together years ago; now we ask for your support again in helping obtain the national designation,” Nation said. “Walton County has so many beautiful resources, and the national designation will help us further preserve the intrinsic environmental resources our beautiful area is known and loved for." 
Created in 1991, the National Scenic Byways program is a collaborative effort to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. It brings national and international attention to our country's unique roadways and provides economic benefits to the rural communities they traverse. It has funded 2,672 projects for state and nationally designated byway routes in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  

Scenic Walton is an affiliate chapter of Scenic America.

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