Off to the Beach

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Whether it's blue, yellow or red, 80 percent of those visiting Panama City Beach are here to go to the beach.

During a recent study conducted early last month, most beachgoers recognized the flags flying, but travel to South Walton and you will see a totally different flag system adding some confusion, the same flag system that might soon fly at St. Andrews State Park.

Chief Bob Majka with the Bay County Fire Department says the park is looking into funding a new flag and lifeguard system.

"We've received some information there may be funding made available to place lifeguards at the St. Andrews Park by spring of next year perhaps."

With lifeguards at the park, Chief Majka says they will also fly the state-approved five flag system.

Bay County Commissioner Cornel Brock says change needs to happen if it can save lives.

"If we can survive with two systems, that's fine. If we can't, if it's creating more confusion, then we need to be able to divorce ourselves from the ownership of our system and be mature enough to consider another."

Dr. John Fletemeyer recently conducted a beach safety study about tourists’ perceptions of the Gulf waters.

"Consistency is going to lead to better education, and right now it's not consistent and I think there's going to be some hard decisions that are going to be made."

But a swap is not an easy decision to make with city and county lines dividing the beach and the division over flags is just as clear.