Many are flocking to the city of Freeport

Walton County

FREEPORT, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton is the fastest-growing county in the state, and people of all ages are relocating to the city of Freeport.

“When I first started we had like three thousand residents here, we now have 9,100,” Mayor of Freeport Russ Barley said.

Born and raised in Freeport, Barley said the city has kept its small-town feel throughout his nine years as the mayor.

“I think they are moving here for retirement, and location to the different military bases and things of that nature,” Barley said.

He said residents of all ages are choosing the east side of town, which is closer to parks, surrounding waterways and the Gulf. Many are even choosing to leave the South Walton beach lifestyle.

“People living in such places like Kelly Plantation and things of that nature, they don’t want to fight the traffic on Highway 98,” Barley said.

Another reason why many are calling Freeport home is because of the schools in the area.

“I just met a parent on Friday who says they have moved here for the schools,” Walton County Schools Superintendent Russell Hughes said.

Hughes said over the course of five years, Freeport schools have seen a 42 percent rate of growth.

“We are trying to build to accommodate the growth that we have,” Hughes said.

With the increase in families moving to the area, Hughes said a new addition is under construction at Freeport Elementary. Once that is complete, the middle and high schools are next. 

City officials are also looking at infrastructure expansion. They are expecting a $1 million state grant in November when they start the new sewer plan on Highway 331.

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