Okaloosa County, Florida
The Okaloosa County courthouse in March 2008
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
|Founded||September 7, 1915|
|• Total||1,082 sq mi (2,800 km2)|
|• Land||930 sq mi (2,400 km2)|
|• Water||152 sq mi (390 km2) 14.0%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||223/sq mi (86/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Okaloosa County is a county 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 2010 census, the population was 180,822. 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. Okaloosa is a Choctaw word meaning "black water". It was formed from western ranges of Walton County and eastern ranges of Santa Rosa County. "Oka" means water, and "lusa" is black in the Choctaw language.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,082 square miles (2,800 km2), of which 930 square miles (2,400 km2) is land and 152 square miles (390 km2) (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).
- Covington County, Alabama - north
- Walton County, Florida - east
- Santa Rosa County, Florida - west
- Escambia County, Alabama - northwest
National protected areas
State Parks and Forests
- Blackwater River State Forest: 189,594 acres (76,726 ha) spanning Okaloosa and neighboring Santa Rosa County.
- Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Recreation Area: 357 acres (144 ha) of sand pine forest along Choctawhatchee Bay. The park provides facilities for camping, hiking, fishing, and canoeing. It is located five miles (8 km) east of Niceville on State Road 20.
- Henderson Beach State Park: 1.3 miles (2.1 km) of sugar sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico. The park provides facilities for camping, RV-ing, and picnicking, as well as a pavilion and boardwalk. It is located just east of downtown Destin on U.S. 98.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1990-2000 2010-2015 2018
Link to statistics of racial makeup:
- White alone=81.5% (July 1, 2015)
- Black or African American alone=10.2% (July 1, 2015)
- American Native and Alaskan Native alone=0.7% (July 1, 2015)
- Asian alone=3.2% (July 1, 2015)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone=0.3% (July 1, 2015)
- Two or more races=4.1% (July 1, 2015)
- Hispanic or Latino=8.6% (July 1, 2015)
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.
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.
The Robert L.F. Sikes Library is located in Crestview, FL and was started in the 1940s in the home of Bertha Henry. She started the library by using her own books as well as books that belonged to her mother as well as using the services of a local church’s lending library. After moving locations multiple times as it grew in popularity, it eventually was renamed after Congressman “Bob” Sikes who served in Congress from 1940-1979. Today, it is a thriving public library.
The Destin Library is located in Destin, FL. While the Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative was officially formed in 1997, Destin wasn’t added until about the year 2000. They provide many services to the public including ancestry research, online card catalog training and how to check out and utilize ebooks using the library.
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 assisted 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.
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.
Other unincorporated communities
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Okaloosa County, Florida.|
- Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners
- Okaloosa County Clerk of Court
- Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections
- Okaloosa County Property Appraiser
- Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office
- Okaloosa County Tax Collector
- Okaloosa County Census
- Okaloosa County Clerk of Courts
- Public Defender, 1st Judicial Circuit of Florida serving Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties
- Office of the State Attorney, 1st Judicial Circuit of Florida
- Circuit and County Court for the 1st Judicial Circuit of Florida