Earning Power

Earning PowerWe offer a peek at a subject that makes a lot of people uncomfortable — their salary. The secretive subject of salaries is a no-no at dinner parties or in casual conversations. For some professions it is a firing offense. We asked friends, acquaintances, EC readers and pretty much anyone who was willing to talk to us, “How much do you make?” To our relief, many of them actually responded.
By Wendy O. Dixon



Judith A. Bense. Photo courtesy Universty of West Florida
Judith A. Bense, 66

President of the University of West Florida, $275,000

Education: Florida State University, bachelor’s and master’s in anthropology with a specialty in archaeology; Ph.D. in same field from Washington State University.

First job: It was in a dime store in Panama City. I was 14 and made 51 and a half cents an hour. I don’t know why we got paid half-pennies. I didn’t much like the work but I loved every penny.

Current job: There are two ways to describe this job. The mayor of a small city and the CEO of a large corporation. I’m responsible for everything at the end of the day. I have other people that really run the institution who have very specific areas they take care of. My daily routine is to get up at 5:30 a.m., first meeting starts at 7:30 a.m. and three nights at work until 7 p.m., or have an event to go to like a basketball game. Every month I take one long distance trip. I’ve just come back from Austin where I was attending an archaeology conference.

What do you like most about your job? That’s easy. I like having ideas and seeing things grow. I’m a builder by nature. I love seeing the new dormitory go up and seeing students in there. I love the marketing and I love the athletics, and seeing the growing of the brick and mortar. Growth and development.

What do you like least about your job? The demanding schedule. I hadn’t gotten up at 5:30 a.m. in a long time before this job. I’m almost used to the back-to-back meetings now.

Worst job ever: My most difficult job was an archeological project for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway with the University of West Florida. It was either stinking hot or very cold. I knew if I didn’t succeed at that project it would ruin my career. But I finished it and it made my reputation as a finisher. Now people know I’ll die trying and think of 14 ways to get it done.

Dream job: This one, but I never dreamed I’d be doing this. It’s out of the blue and it’s the biggest compliment of my life.




Heidi Jo Medina. Photo by Scott HolsteinHeidi Jo Medina. Photo by Scott Holstein
Heidi Jo Medina, 23

Private nanny, $25,000 (based on $12 hourly wage)

Education: I have my general associate degree and am currently obtaining my bachelor’s in elementary education. I plan on graduating in spring 2012.

First job: I was a waitress at Okki, a hibachi/sushi bar in Pace, Fla., for my first job. I loved that job. I think everyone should be a server at some point. It really shows you how you should treat servers and tip.

Current job: During the day I straighten up and organize the house and keep things semi-together. With four kids it can be hard for one person to keep it all together, so I help the mom by doing dishes, laundry, folding and putting away clothes, sweeping, wiping down counter tops and tables and putting toys away. I’ll run errands such as grocery shopping, taking the cars to be washed or worked on. I house sit for them when they are away, and I’ve been on vacation with them twice to help out with the children.

What do you like most about your job? The girls. I work with four girls: Chloe (8), Sophia (6), Mia (3) and Laila (3). They are such sweet and caring children. I have worked with the family for three years and I feel so close to them. I really do love them and I know it will be a sad day when I have to move on in my career as a teacher.

What do you like least about your job? Cranky girls. I’ve experienced several tantrums, fits and fights. It can be a lot to take and sometimes very comical.

Worst job ever: I was a hostess at the Fish House. When I worked there it was winter. I was cold and bored most of the time. A lot of older men also awkwardly hit on me.

Dream job: I hope to go to graduate school at the University of Florida and get a master’s in art education. My dream job is to be an art teacher. I’ll be able to do and teach what I love and get to work with children.





Ralph Everage Jr. Photo by Scott HolsteinRalph Everage Jr. Photo by Scott Holstein
Ralph Everage Jr., 47

Assistant fire chief — training and safety, City of Crestview Fire Dept., $59,000

Education: Okaloosa-Walton Jr. College (now Northwest Florida State College), associate in electronics technology; Troy State University, bachelor’s in resource management.

First job: When I was 16 I was a part-time grocery store clerk.

Current job: I’m responsible for the development and implementation of the fire department’s training program, including monthly and annual training, firefighter certification courses and record keeping. Also, I serve as the fire department safety and infection control officer, ensuring departmental, fire ground and emergency scene safety and providing safety, infection control and accident and injury prevention training.

What do you like most about your job? First, helping our citizens in their time of need — serving the public. Secondly, providing training to our firefighters to help increase their knowledge and ensure their safety on the job.

What do you like least about your job?  Seeing some of the worst times in people’s lives, tragic times.

Worst job ever:  I worked in a manufacturing facility at one time. I had to clean part molds using a chemical bath process outside during the winter while wearing a respirator. I did not like that job. Fortunately, it was short-lived.

Dream job: I’m not really sure. The one I have now is pretty great. Retirement maybe?




Lisa Gonzalez. Photo by Jacqueline WardLisa Gonzalez. Photo by Jacqueline Ward
Lisa Gonzalez, 47

Registered nurse, Intensive & Progressive Care Units at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, $52,000 (average salary of nurses at Sacred Heart)

Education: University of Central Florida, bachelor’s in nursing; Florida International University, master’s in nursing.

First Job: My very first job at age 16 was to clean the public parks in New York City. My first job in the medical industry was when I worked my way through nursing school as an EMT and firefighter.

Current Job: A nurse has many roles, from serving as the patient’s primary advocate to being part of a multidisciplinary team that works together to restore the patient’s health. Nurses help facilitate communication, ensure that a patient’s plan of care is followed and embrace quality and safety initiatives. Most importantly, I believe in healing hands and the power of touch, which is a unique part of the nurse’s role.

What do you like most about your job? I love seeing the sigh of relief on a patient’s face when we explain that we are going to be able to treat them. It’s truly rewarding to know that you can make a difference in someone’s life.

What do you like least about your job? The sadness in a patient’s eyes when we explain that there is nothing else we can do to help heal them, which is where family and spiritual support play a significant role.

Dream job: To be a nurse practitioner in a geriatric center. I have been blessed with a passion to help the elderly.




Teresa Cline. Photo courtesy Teresa ClineTeresa Cline. Photo courtesy Teresa Cline
Teresa Cline, 50ish

Painter, $30,000–$90,000 (it’s feast or famine)

First job: I was a carhop at the A&W Root Beer drive-in in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Current job: I do it all — I’m the web designer, administrator, bookkeeper, artist handler/slave driver, artist-painter/slave, dog walker, parrot psychologist, critter maintenance supervisor (poop picker-upper for three dogs, one cat and a parrot), gallery owner, advertising-marketing specialist, graphic designer and studio/house maid.

What do you like most about your job? Getting paid to daydream and playing with paint. And I really love doing dog portraits.

What do you like least about your job? Bookkeeping

Worst job ever: Waitress

Dream job: The one I live every day for the last 30 years.




Allan Stearns. Photo by Scott HolsteinAllan Stearns. Photo by Scott Holstein
Allan “Al” Stearns, 64

Director of membership, the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, $35,000

Education: University of New Hampshire, bachelor’s in history; University of Nebraska, master’s in urban studies; Troy University, master’s in public administration.

Current job: I seek businesses and individuals who desire to join the chamber of commerce, and I assist them through the process. I am also heavily involved in the community through government, social and religious activities. At the chamber I am staff leader of several active committees and I am the driver of the chamber fire truck.

What do you like most about your job? I like every aspect of my job because it changes every day. I am able to be out in the community, visiting our members and prospective members every day, and am not tied to a desk or a fixed routine. I particularly like the team that I work with at the chamber. I have been at the chamber for 10 years now and am sort of the historian of what has gone on in the past.

What do you like least about your job? It would have to be dealing with negative people. Fortunately they are rare. I try to end every communication with a positive affirmation that I cull from books and other publications. I sometimes make them up. If I can’t be positive, how can I expect others around me to be?

Worst job ever: I had several bad jobs, but probably the worst job was serving as a sales rep for a chemical company, selling cleaning products and equipment. The leading item I sold was an acid based drain cleaner. I demonstrated this product everywhere I went. It involved dissolving a feminine tampon in a glass beaker (imitating a clogged toilet or drain) with my cleaning product.

Dream job: I’d love to be a tour guide and a character at a national landmark like Williamsburg or Gettysburg.  I love speaking in front of audiences. I think I would enjoy playing the role of a Civil War general.




Dr. Ty Julian Handy. Photo by Scott HolsteinDr. Ty Julian Handy. Photo by Scott Holstein
Dr. Ty Julian Handy, 48

President of Northwest Florida State College, $196,000

Education: Western Kentucky University, bachelor’s in finance; Drexel University, MBA; University of Memphis, Ed.D.

First job: I was a financial analyst for R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company in Chicago.

Current job: As chief executive officer I manage day-to-day operations of the college, including student enrollment, degree programs and classes, the operating budget of the college, the capital budget, facility growth, human resources, etc.  The college has seven physical locations in Okaloosa and Walton counties so I am out and about a bit. I also manage the activities of the NWFSC Foundation, one of the 10 largest two-year college foundations in the country. I report to a volunteer board of eight community members appointed by the governor.

What do you like most about your job? Seeing the impact this college has on the lives of students. We exist as a college with a mission to improve lives. I take great pride in being in a key leadership position of an organization that day-in and day-out is focused on student success.

What do you like least about your job? I guess I would have to say that sometimes the realization of just how high the community expectations are for this college set in and I feel the stress of knowing that, as the gateway to higher education for Okaloosa and Walton counties, if we fail to meet expectations, we are failing students. So, in a phrase, I guess the aspect I like least about my role is the self-imposed stress that I sometimes wrestle with.

Worst job ever: Prior to college I spent a short time as a “lung-sucker” in a chicken disassembly plant in Kentucky. I worked in a disassembly line operating a suction gun that I placed up a chicken’s tail end in order to remove the lungs from the poor bird. I was expected to remove the lungs from every third chicken coming down the line and I’m betting the line moved at a pace of about 1,000 birds per minute.

Dream job: I once asked my father many years ago about what age he planned to retire.  He said to me, “The key is to find a job you love, do it to the best of your ability, and you will never have to concern yourself with such follies as retirement.”




Tony Manthey. Photo by Scott HolsteinTony Manthey. Photo by Scott Holstein
Tony Manthey, 46

Mortgage broker, $250,000

Education: Kennedy Western University, bachelor’s degree in engineering with a minor in finance; Florida State University, MBA.

First job:  I was an industrial engineer for a military defense contractor called Metric Systems Corporation in Fort Walton Beach.

Current job: I am president of Manthey Capital Group. We provide financing sources for both commercial and residential real estate. We also are the consulting representatives for many private investment groups that are purchasing existing commercial real estate from banks, the FDIC and private individuals.

What do you like most about your job? I love being able to provide financial solutions for clients going through a difficult time right now and being able to strategically bring a deal together that is a win-win for both parties, as well as the independence that comes from being a business owner.

What do you like least about your job? Not having benefits (medical and dental insurance) that would be supplied by working for a corporation.

Worst job ever: I worked as an electronic component assembler for very little pay before I obtained my degrees.

Dream job: I always wanted to be a jet pilot.  ec



Who Makes What?Emerald Coast Salary Samples

Commercial real estate property marketing director

Freelance writer and publicist

University professor

College professor

University campus librarian

College campus librarian

Second grade teacher

Circuit court judge

Senior engineer



Sarah Seevers. Photo by Scott HolsteinSarah Seevers, mayor of Destin
Why do this job with no salary?

I have lived in this community for more than 30 years, and I could not think of a better place to live and raise my family. I believe if you want your community to be the best it can be then you must be part of the process. I love Destin, the people, the beautiful harbor and beaches, and I am honored to be its mayor. Photo by Scott Holstein
Local and State Government Officials


Mike Anderson,
mayor of Fort Walton Beach

David Cadle,
mayor of Crestview

Randall Wise,
mayor of Niceville

Sarah Seevers,
mayor of Destin

C. Harold Carpenter,
mayor of DeFuniak Springs

Rick Scott,
governor of Florida

Jennifer Carroll,
lieutenant governor of Florida

Pam Bondi,
attorney general of Florida