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The state's Department of Environmental Protection denied Coastal Petroleum Co.'s request for 12 offshore oil and gas drilling permits. The company says it will appeal the decision.


Mowrey Elevator Co. bought the LeHigh warehouse in nearby Marianna. It may lease out the building or it could expand its elevator-manufacturing operations there. Mowrey employs about 250 people.


Work could begin in early 1999 on a new 1,450-bed state prison between Carrabelle and Harbeson City. The facility would employ 350 in an area where fishing and seasonal tourism create the most jobs. The state will purchase 349 acres from Jacksonville-based St. Joe Corp. (NYSE-SJP) for $238,000, about 85% of the land's appraised value.


The Tourist Development Council will raise its bed tax from three cents to five cents to pay for the cost of building a public conference center.

The county commission changed the name of the Okaloosa County Air Terminal to the Okaloosa Regional Airport.


Eastern Shipbuilding Group expanded its shipyard to include a sheet-metal fabrication plant, and Eastern plans to open another shipyard nearby. The company manufactures and refurbishes oil supply vessels and employs more than 300.


A $35 million beach renourishment project will start in July, run about nine months and dump more than 7.3 million cubic yards of sand along a 16-mile stretch. The state will pay $25 million, federal government $5 million and the Bay County Tourist Development Council $5 million.


Gulf Coast Internet Co., in partnership with Cheney Communications Co., acquired Cheney's Internet service customers. Gulf Coast provides Internet access from Pensacola to New Orleans to more than 70,000 subscribers.


Construction may start in July on a 12-story, 325-room, $42 million Marriott convention hotel in downtown. Developer Tallahassee Hotel Associates has backing from primary partners Credit/Suisse First Boston and Zurich-based Benvenuto Trust.


County government leaders see a proposed 35-bed girls juvenile commitment facility as a way to bring work to south Walton, which depends on seasonal tourism jobs.